Volume 99, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Military recruits are at high risk of respiratory infections. However, limited data exist on military populations in tropical settings, where the epidemiology of respiratory infections differs substantially from temperate settings. We enrolled recruits undertaking a 10-week military training at two Royal Thai Army barracks between May 2014 and July 2015. We used a multiplex respiratory panel to analyze nose and throat swabs collected at the start and end of the training period, and from participants experiencing respiratory symptoms during follow-up. Paired sera were tested for influenza seroconversion using a hemagglutinin inhibition assay. Overall rates of upper respiratory illness and influenza-like illness were 3.1 and 2.0 episodes per 100 person-weeks, respectively. A pathogen was detected in 96% of samples. The most commonly detected microbes were type B (62.7%) or non–type B (58.2%) and rhinovirus (22.4%). At baseline, bacterial colonization was high and included type B (82.3%), non–type B (31.5%), (14.6%), (8.5%), and (8.5%). At the end of follow-up, colonization with non–type B had increased to 74.1%, and to 33.6%. In the serology subset, the rate of influenza infection was 3.4 per 100 person-months; 58% of influenza infections resulted in clinical disease. Our study provides key data on the epidemiology and transmission of respiratory pathogens in tropical settings. Our results emphasize the need for improved infection prevention and control in military environments, given the high burden of illness and potential for intense transmission of respiratory pathogens.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 14 Mar 2018
  • Accepted : 26 Jun 2018
  • Published online : 04 Sep 2018

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