Travel-Associated multidrug-resistant organism acquisition and risk factors among US military personnel

Gregory Buchek*, Katrin Mende, Kalyani Telu, Susan Kaiser, Jamie Fraser, Indrani Mitra, Jason Stam, Tahaniyat Lalani, David Tribble, Heather C. Yun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: International travel is a risk factor for incident colonization with extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing organisms. These and other multidrug-resistant (MDR) bacteria are major pathogens in combat casualties. We evaluated risk factors for colonization with MDR bacteria in US military personnel travelling internationally for official duty. Methods: TravMil is a prospective observational study enrolling subjects presenting to military travel clinics. We analysed surveys, antimicrobial use data, and pre-and post-Travel perirectal swabs in military travellers to regions outside the continental USA, Canada, Western or Northern Europe, or New Zealand, presenting to one clinic from 12/2015 to 12/2017. Recovered Gram-negative isolates underwent identification and susceptibility testing (BD Phoenix). Characteristics of trip and traveller were analysed to determine risk factors for MDR organism colonization. Results: 110 trips were planned by 99 travellers (74% male, median age 38 years [IQR 31, 47.25]); 72 trips with returned pre-and post-Travel swabs were completed by 64 travellers. Median duration was 21 days (IQR 12.75, 79.5). 17% travelled to Mexico/Caribbean/Central America, 15% to Asia, 57% to Africa and 10% to South America; 56% stayed in hotels and 50% in dormitories/barracks. Travellers used doxycycline (15%) for malaria prophylaxis, 11% took an antibiotic for travellers' diarrhoea (TD) treatment (fluoroquinolone 7%, azithromycin 4%). Incident MDR organism colonization occurred in 8 travellers (incidence density 3.5/1000 travel days; cumulative incidence 11% of trips [95% CI: 4-19%]), all ESBL-producing Escherichia coli. A higher incidence of ESBL-producing E. coli acquisition was associated with travel to Asia (36% vs 7%, P = 0.02) but not with travel to other regions, TD or use of antimicrobials. No relationship was seen between fluoroquinolone or doxycycline exposure and resistance to those antimicrobials. Conclusions: Incident colonization with MDR organisms occurs at a lower rate in this military population compared with civilian travellers, with no identified modifiable risk factors, with highest incidence of ESBL acquisition observed after South Asia travel.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbertaab028
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobials
  • CTX-M
  • Colonization
  • ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae
  • Eschericia coli
  • Perirectal swab
  • Whole genome sequencing


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