1269. Deaths Attributed to Zoonotic and Vector-borne Diseases in US Military Forces, 1998-2009
Session: Poster Abstract Session: Travel/Tropical Medicine and Parasitology
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Room: Poster Hall B1
Background: Zoonotic diseases (animal diseases transmissible to humans under natural conditions) and vector-borne diseases (infectious diseases transmitted host-to-host by another animal, usually an arthropod) have received increased interest in the United States (US) in recent decades (e.g., those caused by Dengue viruses, Borrelia, Hantaviruses and West Nile virus).  However, these diseases have always been of great interest to US military people who often train and live in close proximity to rodents, ticks and other reservoirs and vectors in the US and overseas. US Forces globally are monitored by medical surveillance programs, including mortality surveillance. Deaths in US Forces associated with zoonotic or vector-borne infections for 1998-2009 were identified and studied.

Methods: The Mortality Surveillance Division (MSD) of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) began tracking causes of death in military personnel worldwide in 1998. Prompt reporting of deaths allows the MSD to coordinate postmortem laboratory testing. AFMES legal authority allows the MSD to obtain documents relevant to each death.

Results: During 1998-2009, there were 116 deaths due to confirmed, primary infectious diseases. These accounted for <1% of ~13,000 non-combat, active duty military deaths. Of the 116 deaths, 35 (30%) were respiratory, 24 (21%) were blood-borne (hepatitis, HIV), 21 (18%) were due to sepsis, 11 (10%) were classified as zoonotic or vector-borne, and the remaining 25 (21%) included a variety of infections (e.g., meningitis and myocarditis). The 11 zoonotic and vector-borne deaths were due to Hantavirus (3 deaths), malaria (2), Ehrlichia (2), Taenia solium (2), Rickettsia (1) and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (1).  Three of these were considered to have been infected outside the US, five within the US and geographic site of infection was unknown for three.

Conclusion: Zoonotic and vector-borne infectious diseases are an important threat to US Forces worldwide. The domestic threat is significant and must be respected. The identified deaths are a stark reminder that areas of risk must be identified, appropriate information must be effectively communicated to those at risk and proper use of protective measures must be enforced.

Subject Category: T. Travel/tropical medicine and parasitology

Robert Potter, DVM1, Craig Mallak, MD1 and Joel Gaydos, MD2, (1)Armed Forces Medical Examiner's Office, Rockville, MD, (2)Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center, Silver Spring, MD


R. Potter, None

C. Mallak, None

J. Gaydos, None

Findings in the abstracts are embargoed until 12:01 a.m. EST Thursday, Oct. 20 with the exception of research findings presented at IDSA press conferences.