Acute infectious respiratory diseases are a significant preventive medicine problem for military populations living in close quarters. Crowded conditions are often found at training centers, dormitories, tent cities, and deployment-staging areas. Other potential transmission environments include recruit training centers, classrooms, dining facilities, and areas where items, such as resuscitation mannequins and water fountains are shared.
Over the past 10 years adenoviruses have affected about 15,000 military basic trainees annually, with 3-4 days of illness per event and 1-2 deaths occurring per year due to the virus. The United States military processes thousands of recruits each year who arrive from all regions of the country as well as some foreign countries, and from a variety of different environments. The recruits are then formed into close-quartered military units. They may arrive as hosts or with mild cases of respiratory infections endemic to their own particular region of the country; they are housed in close contact with individuals from other parts of the country who may be susceptible. New recruits may also be exposed to respiratory infections that are endemic to the recruit training center. Close contact, coupled with the unique stressors of military operations, often put military recruits at a greater risk for respiratory disease than other cohorts.