Fighting malaria since the Skeeter beaters

The military and malaria have a long history together. Regarded as a scourge of soldiers in tropical areas, the disease is said to have been responsible for more casualties than bullets. In fact, military research produced many of our modern antimalarials including resochin (chloroquine) by the Germans prior to World War 2 and mefloquine which came out of the Walter Reed Institute (Silver Spring, Maryland) during the Vietnam war. Even the US Centers for Disease Control, the premier federal public health agency, had its origins as the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas in 1942. Among CDC’s first activities was the eradication of malaria from 13 southern US states which was achieved in 1951.

The NY Times recently ran an article on a World War 2 group “officially called Malaria Control Unit Cactus, but unofficially known as the Skeeter Beaters”. The small unit consisted of mostly US Navy Corpsmen volunteers and their exploits were relived in a 2002 book by Dennis Cline, “Skeeter Beaters: Memories of the South Pacific, 1941-1945.” But Mr Cline didn’t stop with the book, he is raising money to fight malaria in the unit’s honor and his foundation hopes to send 20,000 insecticde treated nets to the Solomon Islands.

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You can support their efforts by either donating directly for the purchase of nets or buying clothing with their terrific logo here.

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1 Response to “Fighting malaria since the Skeeter beaters”


  1. 1 Sandra D. Coburn October 30, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    I am happy to have found your website. My father, Robert Kanavel, was one of the original Skeeter Beaters. Thanks for helping continue the fight.


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