Deployment infectious disease threats: IDCRP initiatives and vision forward

Tahaniyat Lalani, Jamie Fraser, Mark S. Riddle, Ramiro L. Gutierrez, Patrick W. Hickey, David R. Tribble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Infectious diseases pose a significant threat to health and readiness of military personnel deployed globally during wartime and peacekeeping activities. Surveillance and improvement in mitigation through research of infectious disease threats remain an integral part of Force Health Protection. Herein, we review research efforts of the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program related to deployment and travel-related infections. Methods: The objectives of the Deployment and Travel-Related Infections Research Area are to (1) provide epidemiologic and clinical data, including pathogen-specific estimates of disease incidence among deployed troops, (2) execute clinical trials and effectiveness studies to improve recommendations regarding prevention and treatment of infections during deployment, and (3) evaluate the knowledge and practice patterns of health care providers engaged in deployment/travel medicine and the impact on outcomes. The centerpiece protocol of the research area is the Deployment and Travel-Related Infectious Disease Risk Assessment, Outcomes, and Prevention Strategies cohort study (TravMil), which was initiated in 2010 and collects data on a broad range of deployment-related infections. Results: To date, 4,154 deployed military personnel and traveling Department of Defense (DoD) beneficiaries have been enrolled in TravMil. Surveillance data collected through the TravMil study provide assessment of deployment and travel-related infectious disease threats, and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies. The incidence of travelers' diarrhea, influenza-like illness, and undifferentiated febrile illness is 20.48%, 9.34%, and 6.16%, respectively. The cohort study also provides necessary infrastructure to execute clinical trials. The TrEAT TD clinical trial evaluated the effectiveness of single-dose antibiotic therapy for travelers' diarrhea in the deployed setting. When compared to levofloxacin, azithromycin was not inferior; however, inferiority was not demonstrated with use of single dose of rifaximin. The trial findings supported the development of a deployment-related health guideline for the management of acute diarrheal disease. A clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of rifaximin for prevention for travelers' diarrhea (Prevent TD) is underway. Conclusions: The research area has proven its ability to conduct impactful research, including the development of field-expedient diagnostics, the largest DoD multi-site travelers' diarrhea randomized control trial in peacetime and combat settings, and informed Force Health Protection guidance. The research area continues to provide surveillance data to military commands via an established collaborative network of military treatment facilities, DoD laboratories (both within and outside the continental United States), foreign militaries, and academia. The conduct of clinical and translational research in a deployment setting presents significant challenges, most notably in recruitment/enrollment and compliance with study-related procedures during deployment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalMilitary Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • deployment health
  • febrile illness
  • military health
  • travelers' diarrhea


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