The acute respiratory infection consortium: A multi-site, multi-disciplinary clinical research network in the department of defense

Christian Coles, Eugene V. Millar, Timothy Burgess, Martin G. Ottolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Acute respiratory infections (ARI) result in substantial annual morbidity among military personnel and decrease operational readiness. Herein, we summarize the research efforts of the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program (IDCRP) related to ARIs. Methods: The ARI Research Area of the IDCRP was established in response to the 2009 emergence of pandemic influenza A/H1N1. That year, IDCRP investigators deployed the ARI Consortium Natural History Study (ARIC NHS), a multi-centered, longitudinal observational study to assess etiology, epidemiology, and clinical characteristics of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in the U.S. military. The success of this initial effort spurred implementation of several new initiatives. These include the FluPlasma trial, designed to evaluate the efficacy of hyperimmune anti-influenza plasma for the treatment of severe influenza; the self-administered live-attenuated influenza vaccine (SNIF) trial, which assessed the immunogenicity and acceptance of a self-administered live-attenuated influenza vaccine in military personnel; the Study to Address Threats of ARI in Congregate Military Populations (ATARI), a prospective study of ILI transmission, etiology and epidemiology in recruits; and the Flu Breath Test (FBT) study, a preliminary study of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOC) in influenza patients. In addition, the InFLUenza Patient-Reported Outcome (FLU-PRO) survey, a daily diary to measure influenza symptoms during clinical trials, was developed. Lastly, the Pragmatic Assessment of Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in the DoD (PAIVED) study, a two-year randomized trial designed to compare the effectiveness of the three types of licensed vaccines, launched in Fall 2018. Results: The on-going ARIC NHS has enrolled over 2000 ILI and SARI cases since its inception, providing data on burden and clinical manifestations of ARI in military personnel and their families. The FluPlasma 2 trial concluded subject enrollment in 2018. Preliminary results from ATARI study show a high frequency of respiratory viruses circulating during the first two weeks of recruit training. Based on assessment of FLU-PRO responses, which were found to be reliable and reproducible, the survey may be a useful tool in clinical trials and epidemiological studies. The Flu Breath Study will complete enrollment in 2019. Findings from PAIVED are intended to provide evidence needed for assessing influenza vaccination policy in the military. Conclusions: The ARI burden in the armed services remains significant every year and the threat is dynamic given emergent and evolving threats, such as influenzas. With strong successes to date, future initiatives of the ARI Research Area will focus on interventional studies, ARI transmission dynamics in congregate military settings, and determinants of risk of pandemic influenza and other emergent respiratory viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
JournalMilitary Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • acute respiratory infections
  • influenza
  • influenza-like illness
  • military health


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