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Self Reported Incidence and Morbidity of Acute Respiratory Illness among Deployed U.S. Military in Iraq and Afghanistan
UNIFORMED SERVICES UNIV OF THE HEALTH SCIENCES BETHESDA MD
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BACKGROUND Historically, respiratory infections have had a significant impact on U.S. military missions. Deployed troops are particularly at high risk due to close living conditions, stressful work environments and increased exposure to pathogens. To date, there are limited data available on acute respiratory illness ARI among troops deployed in support of ongoing military operations, specifically Operation Enduring Freedom OEF and Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF. METHODS Using self-report data from two sources collected from troops deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and the surrounding region, we analyzed incidence and risk factors for ARI. Military personnel on mid-deployment Rest and Recuperation RR or during redeployment were eligible to participate in the voluntary self-report survey. RESULTS Overall, 39.5 reported having at least one ARI. Of these, 18.5 sought medical care and 33.8 reported having decreased job performance. The rate of self-reported ARI was 15 episodes per 100 person-months among those taking the voluntary survey, and 24.7 episodes per 100 person-months among those taking the clinic health questionnaire. Negative binomial regression analysis found female sex, Navy branch of service and lack of flush toilets to be independently associated with increased rates of ARI. Deployment to OIF, increasing age and higher rank were also positively associated with ARI risk. CONCLUSIONS The overall percentage of deployed military personnel reporting at least one acute respiratory illness decreased since earlier parts of OIFOEF. However, the reported effect on job performance increased tremendously. The most important factors associated with increased respiratory infection are female sex, Navy branch of service, lack of improved latrine facilities, deployment to OIF, increasing age and higher rank.
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