CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (CPL Steven Fox) – Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman and medical practitioners with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, attended a mobile Operational Clinical Infectious Diseases course held at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 9-11.
A mobile training team with Walter Reed Army Institute of Research held the course to provide medical-practitioner service members, predominantly those deploying in support of U.S. Africa Command, with knowledge pertaining to a variety of tropical diseases and other potential life-threatening ailments common in the region.
Army Maj. Kristopher Paolino, an infectious disease physician with WRAIR and deputy director of the mobile course, said the institute developed the course to educate personnel about potential regional health threats and dispel common misconceptions about specific diseases.
“The course is constantly adapting, with an attempt to focus on the medic and physician assistants at the front lines and in the most austere environments, to help them identify infectious threats, and provide preventative or therapeutic options to maintain the fighting force,” said Paolino.
Service members attending the course here learned about rapid diagnostics tests available to them and worked with malaria slides and microscopes. Course material emphasized tropical disease prevention, initial symptoms identification, and containment.
Paolino said while the course is very educational for service members, it is not meant to develop tropical medicine experts.
“We try to take the ten-thousand-foot view and show the students that there are some simple take-home points, such as a fever in a malaria-endemic area is malaria until proven otherwise, given its potential to kill,” he said.
Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen and MARSOC medical practitioners took advantage of the course to better prepare for future deployments.
“The training allowed the providers and corpsmen better oversight of infectious disease in their areas of operation, as well as the ability to prevent, diagnose and treat these diseases they may otherwise not be familiar with,” explained a Preventative Medicine Technician with 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, MARSOC.
Though this particular course iteration was geared toward health concerns in Africa, the course itself is not Africa-specific. The material is relevant to anybody deploying to a tropical environment.
“It is beneficial to the other providers that came from 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, 2nd Marine Division and Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune since there is so much overlap in the infectious diseases found in AFRICOM, (U.S. Pacific Command) and (U.S. Central Command),” said the PMT.
Paolino said WRAIR also holds resident five-day courses, and has added up to 20 mobile courses each calendar year, significantly increasing the number of students taught annually.