BACKGROUND: Military recruits receiving training are vulnerable to acute respiratory disease and a significant proportion of illness is due to unidentified pathogens. While some countries use surveillance programs to monitor such illness, few data exist for recruits of the British Armed Forces. OBJECTIVES: Through active surveillance of approximately 1000 Royal Navy trainees during 2001, we sought to describe and determine the aetiology of acute respiratory illness. METHODS: Standard viral culture was used together with serology and a novel highly sensitive real-time PCR and molecular beacon probe assay for RSV detection. RESULTS: Among 54 Royal Navy recruits with respiratory symptoms adenovirus was identified in 35%, influenza viruses in 19% and RSV in 14% of this group. All of the recruits were absent from training for almost a week, most of whom were confined to the sickbay. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to document adenovirus and RSV as important causes of acute respiratory illness among Royal Navy trainees. The study findings demonstrate the clinical significance and challenges of diagnosing RSV infection in young adults.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases