Pre-exposure anti-Campylobacter jejuni immunoglobulin a levels associated with reduced risk of Campylobacter diarrhea in adults traveling to Thailand.

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  • 1 Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Diarrhea history questionnaires were administered to 369 U.S. military volunteers before and after deployment to Thailand. Additionally, blood samples obtained from a subset of 221 volunteers 1-3 weeks previously and 3-4 weeks after their deployment were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for immunoglobulin A to Campylobacter jejuni. Stool samples from personnel (including volunteers) contracting diarrhea in Thailand were cultured for enteric pathogens. Overall, 35.2% (130 of 369) of questionnaire respondents reported one or more diarrhea episodes during their trip. Volunteers with pretravel anti-C. jejuni reciprocal titers < or = 450 were 1.6 times as likely to have had diarrhea during their stay in Thailand compared with those with pretravel titers > 450 (39.7% versus 25.3%; P = 0.05). The symptomatic seroconversion, or attributable Campylobacter diarrhea attack rate, for the 1-month exercise was 12.7% (28 of 221). The symptomatic seroconversion rate in nonimmune (titer < or = 450) volunteers was 17.1%, whereas that in immune volunteers was only 4.0% (P = 0.002). Campylobacter jejuni or C. coli were recovered from 32.9% (56 of 170) of stool samples cultured and were the most commonly identified enteropathogens. Campylobacter diarrhea was associated with elevated temperatures, fecal red cells, and fecal white blood cells. The results of this study show that Campylobacter continues to represent a significant health threat to Western travelers to Thailand, but many of these travelers have preexisting Campylobacter immunity that protects them from clinically significant Campylobacter enteritis.