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A case-control study of incident rheumatological conditions following acute gastroenteritis during military deployment.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Navy

Sponsoring Office:

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Agency, office or organization under authority of the Sec Def (not affiliated to Army, Navy, or Air Force)

Release Date/Publication: December 01, 2013

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Defense Medical Surveillance System

Secondary DoD Data Source: Post Deployment Health Assessment


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the risk of incident rheumatological diagnoses (RD) associated with self-reported diarrhoea and vomiting during a first-time deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Such an association would provide evidence that RD in this population may include individuals with reactive arthritis (ReA) from deployment-related infectious gastroenteritis.

DESIGN: This case-control epidemiological study used univariate and multivariate logistic regression to compare the odds of self-reported diarrhoea/vomiting among deployed US military personnel with incident RD to the odds of diarrhoea/vomiting among a control population.

SETTING: We analysed health records of personnel deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, including responses on a postdeployment health assessment and medical follow-up postdeployment.

PARTICIPANTS: Anonymous data were obtained from 891 US military personnel with at least 6 months of medical follow-up following a first-time deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2008-2009. Cases were defined using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) diagnosis codes; controls had an unrelated medical encounter and were representative of the study population.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary measure was an association between incident RD and self-reported diarrhoea/vomiting during deployment. A secondary measure was the overall incidence of RD in this population.

RESULTS: We identified 98 cases of new onset RD, with a total incidence of 161/100 000 persons. Of those, two participants had been diagnosed with Reiter's disease (i) (3.3/100 000 persons) and the remainder with non-specific arthritis/arthralgia (157.5/100 000 persons). The OR for acute diarrhoea was 2.67 (p=0.03) after adjusting for important covariates.

CONCLUSIONS: Incident rheumatological conditions, even those classified as 'non-specific,' are significantly associated with prior severe diarrhoea in previously deployed military personnel, potentially indicating ReA and need for preventive measures to reduce diarrhoeagenic bacterial exposures in military personnel and other travellers to the developing regions.


Deyoung KH, Riddle MS, May L, Porter CK. A case-control study of incident rheumatological conditions following acute gastroenteritis during military deployment. BMJ Open. 2013 Dec 5;3(12):e003801.

Last Updated: February 21, 2019
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