Special Feature

Additional photos from the story, "Navy Entomology and the Indonesian Tsunami: A First-Hand Story"

ESA member Lieutenant Junior Grade Roxanne Burrus, an active-duty Navy Medical Entomologist Officer, stationed in Bangor, Washington, recently returned home from Southeast Asia. As a member of the Navy's Preventative Medical Unit, she spend three months there working with Operation Unified Assistance in the tsunami/earthquake relief. In the May 2005 issue of the ESA Newsletter, she tells of her experiences in Southeast Asia. Below are photos she took of the area; the quoted material below are hers as well.

To left, LTG Roxanne Burrus. “We received orders on New Year's Eve to leave within 48 hours. So I packed up my house, shipped my cats off to family, and left my home for, as it turned out, three months.”

Burrus (right) and Lieutenant Toni Piliwali, a Navy reservist Environmental Health Officer who is stationed in Pearl Harbor (left) in a helicopter about to fly to Sumatra. Both are members of the Navy's Preventive Medical Unit that went to Southeast Asia to help with Operation Unified Assistance in the tsunami/earthquake relief. “We [first] spent some time in Thailand, and then were finally able to get into Indonesia. When we originally left the U.S., our team was comprised of 43 individuals. Due to various constraints imposed by the situation, we were whittled down to 11 by the time we arrived in Indonesia.”

Helicopter view of Banda Aceh, Indonesia. “The people of Banda Aceh are incredibly generous and warm-hearted. Seldom have I encountered such kindness among a large population. The fact that these people interacted in this manner in the face of such tremendous, unspeakable loss made their generosity even more astounding.”

A mass of maggots in the center of a septic tank. “Concrete drainage ditches line most of the streets of Banda Aceh and surround many of the refugee camps. The earthquake and tsunami damaged the infrastructure of many so that they no longer drained properly.”

A mass of maggots in the center of a septic tank (zoomed-in shot). “Every day, we visited the camps and worked with the villagers to find out what health-related issues were present. This included testing water quality and inspecting latrines, tents and barracks for mosquito and filth fly exclusion capabilities.”


A hoard of maggots on the edge of a septic tank. “Filth fly larval concentrations in drainage ditches and septic tanks were sometimes so abundant that the maggots seemed to be fighting for space in the fecal-contaminated water.”

Rat-tailed maggots clumped together in a drainage ditch. “We saw many different species of filth flies. Blow/bottle flies and rat-tailed maggots were the most noticeable, due to their large size.”

Culex quinquefasciatus larvae and pupae in a drainage ditch. “I encountered [these] mosquito populations so numerous that they completely filled the entire surface of the water. I’d wave my hand over the water, creating a shadow and thousands of larvae would instinctively and simultaneously respond by diving to the bottom of the ditch.”

Adult filth flies covered the ground under the cooking area in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp. “Adult flies were readily apparent wherever garbage accumulated….[They] also rested on soil surfaces where food wastes spilled directly onto the soil.”

Filth flies resting on barbed wire. “When not feeding, the adults rested on clothes lines and fences, creating a jewel-like adornment.”

A field of rubble where an urban area of Banda Aceh used to be. “It was a very sobering experience to see it first-hand. It was overwhelming to live in the midst of it, even for such a brief time as we were there.......It was difficult, tiring, all-consuming work...and the 100 degree F daily temperatures were draining, but my time helping in Indonesia was some of the best days of my life. I am honored to have been in service.”

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