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Seroconversion to Japanese Encephalitis Virus Among U.S. Infantry Forces in Korea

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  • Epidemiology and Analysis Division, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Silver Spring, Maryland; Force Health Protection and Preventive Medicine, 65th Medical Brigade, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Viral Disease Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is endemic in the Republic of Korea (ROK), posing a medical threat to more than 29,000 U.S. Forces military personnel currently deployed in the ROK. The objective of this study was to provide data on the risk of JEV exposure among U.S. Forces in the ROK. One thousand U.S. Army Soldiers were randomly selected for the study from the cohort of infantry Soldiers deployed in the ROK for a period of at least 330 days from 2008 to 2011. Pre- and post-deployment serum specimens were tested for the presence of JEV antibodies by plaque reduction neutralization test. A total of 2/1,000 (0.2%) U.S. Army Soldiers post-deployment specimens tested positive for JEV antibody. Results from the pre-deployment specimens indicated one true seroconversion and one with titers suggestive of a JEV infection. These results indicate a low, but nonzero risk of JEV exposure among U.S. Army Soldiers in the ROK.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Angelia A. Eick-Cost, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, 11800 Tech Road, Suite 220, Silver Spring, MD 20904. E-mail: angelia.a.cost.ctr@mail.mil

Financial support: This study was funded by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Division of Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System.

Authors' addresses: Angelia A. Eick-Cost and Zheng Hu, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Silver Spring, MD, E-mails: angelia.a.cost.ctr@mail.mil and zheng.hu.ctr@mail.mil. Terry A. Klein, 65th Medical Brigade, Force Health Protections and Preventive Medicine, Seoul, Korea, E-mail: terry.a.klein2.civ@mail.mil. Robert J. Putnak and Richard G. Jarman, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD, E-mails: j.r.putnak.ctr@mail.mil and richard.g.jarman.mil@mail.mil.

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