Short Report: Impact of Traveler's Diarrhea on United States Troops Deployed to Thailand

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  • Department of Tropical Medicine, Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit No. 6, Department of Microbiology, U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 2, Department of Bacteriology, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Indonesia

Among a United States military unit of 170 personnel deployed to Utapao, Thailand for a three-week training exercise, 40% experienced diarrheal disease, and 12% sought medical treatment for diarrhea. Most illness clustered within the first two weeks of arrival and individuals were ill an average of 3.6 days. Fifty-five percent of cases lost two days of work and 15% required treatment with intravenous fluids. Bacterial pathogens were recovered from 38% of 16 stools submitted, with Campylobacter jejuni the most common. Four (12.5%) of 32 persons who voluntarily submitted paired sera exhibited a four-fold increase in IgG antibody titer to C. jejuni. Traveler's diarrhea continues to be an important problem with a serious potential to impact the mission readiness of even small military units deployed overseas.