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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, May 24, 1953, Image 169

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1953-05-24/ed-1/seq-169/

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MOSQUITO HUNTER—Wjlliam H. W. Komp of the Public Health
Service uses his specially devised syringe to remove yellow fever
larvae from an old stump in the jungles of Panama near El Real.
"OPERATION MOSQUITO" —Using a needle finer than o human hair, Mr. Komp dissects a mos
quito. Dissecting seven parts covering an area no larger than a pinhead, he uses the needle in his
left hand to hold the specimen and the needle in the right to "operate."
SEA OF MUD—Water breeds mosquitoes. It also makes mud! Oxen are brought to the assist
ance of Mr. Komp in the yellow fever country of Costa Rica. Mr. Komp is in the jeep.
Science’s Battle Against
Berm-Bearing Mosquitoes
By Meredith S. Buel
Ui'YPERATING” with a
V/ needle finer than a
human hair is helping stamp
out a killer that Has plagued
man for centuries.
William H. W. Komp per
fected the needle. He uses
the delicate instrument to
remove and inspect vital or
gans that can’t be seen by the
naked eye. His findings are
crucial to some countries, a
matter of life or death for
many thousands of people.
Mr. Komp dissects mosqui
toes. Such painstaking work
is needed to identify vari
ous species—especially those
whose needlelike puncture of
the skin might mean yellow
fever or malaria to an un
suspecting victim.
As medical entomologist in
charge of mosquito classifica
tion for the Public Health
Service, he is well known to
Central and South American
governments. Sometimes they
send small boxes to his office
at the National Institutes of
Health. Inside are dead mos
quitoes. With a few skilled
strokes of his needle, he can
Identify them. Some are
harmless—others are killers.
often discovered in time to
ward off an epidemic.
For 35 years, Mr. Komp has
studied tropical disease-car
riers, spending about half ol
that time in the tropics. He’s
made his way through steam
ing jungles, up inland rivers
teeming with alligators and
poisonous snakes and across
treacherous swamps and
marshes—all in search of in
fected mosquitoes and their
On occasion, he turned back
when an Indian spear em
bedded in a river cast an
ominous shadow—a warning
to go no farther. He became
the friend of savage tribal
chiefs, in whose villages he
administered help to the sick
while tracking down the
deadly Insects. Once, he re
calls, to get to a stricken vil
lage near Bogota, Colombia,
he made a three-day trip over
the Andes, where a misstep
by his mule would have hurled
him into a rocky ravine.
Weeding out the killer dur
ing an epidemic is no easy
task. “More than 2,000 kinds
of mosquitoes exist," Mr.
Komp points out, “and about

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