Spread of Adenovirus to Geographically Dispersed Military Installations, May–October 2007

Jill S. Trei; Natalie M. Johns; Jason L. Garner; Lawrence B. Noel; Brian V. Ortman; Kari L. Ensz; Matthew C. Johns; Michel L. Bunning; Joel C. Gaydos


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2010;16(5) 

In This Article



In late May 2007, enhanced, active ARD surveillance was initiated at 12 military installations that received basic training graduates, including 5 Air Force secondary training sites that received the most graduates from Lackland AFB: Sheppard AFB, (28.4% of BMT graduates); Keesler AFB, (16.4%); Goodfellow AFB, (3.8%); Hurlburt Field, Florida (1.8%); and Brooks City-Base, Texas (0.7%). In total, the 12 sites participating in enhanced surveillance efforts received 54.2% of BMT graduates moving to non–Lackland AFB sites for their secondary training.

Staff from the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) sent respiratory specimen collection kits and educational materials to the secondary sites that had cases, created a website to disseminate information, and encouraged participation through regular email correspondence. Investigators at USAFSAM enhanced surveillance efforts by directing efforts to sites with suspected cases but decreasing or few specimen submissions.

Nasal wash, nasopharyngeal swab, and oropharyngeal (OP) swab specimens were collected from patients meeting the ARD case definition May 25–October 31, 2007, and sent to USAFSAM in viral Universal Transport Medium (Copan, Brescia, Italy). The ARD case definition included fever of ≥100.5°F with a cough or sore throat or evidence of pneumonia. Routine patient surveys that accompanied laboratory specimens were reviewed to obtain patients' demographic data, signs and symptoms, additional clinical information, travel history, and lost training days.

Additionally, staff from USAFSAM and the Air Education and Training Command headquarters coordinated the public health response and provided guidance on prevention, enhanced surveillance, and control efforts. Sites not included in initial enhanced surveillance efforts were also invited to send specimens collected from patients whose conditions met the case definition. By using laboratory surveillance data, weekly ARD and AdARD trends were tracked at the 3 main sites reporting increased ARD, Sheppard AFB, Keesler AFB, and Goodfellow AFB.

Laboratory Methods

Specimens were tested by traditional viral culture, shell vial culture (R-Mix; Diagnostic Hybrids, Athens, OH, USA), and, beginning July 25, 2007, reverse transcription–PCR (RT-PCR) for subtype B14. Most adenovirus culture–positive specimens submitted between May 26 and July 25, 2007 were tested for Ad14 after the test capability became available. Viral and shell vial culture identified adenovirus, influenza, parainfluenza viruses 1–3, respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinovirus, as well as herpes simplex virus 1 and enterovirus after additional evaluation. Tube cultures were examined for 10 days for cytopathologic effects, and cells from the shell vial cultures were stained with pooled fluorescent antibodies and virus-specific monoclonal antibodies. The procedure and hexon-specific oligonucleotides for the adenovirus B14-specific monoplex RT-PCR were adapted from a US Naval Health Research Center protocol.[8,13] On nasal wash and OP swab specimens and adenovirus isolates, DNA was extracted from the transport media and amplified by RT-PCR. The resulting RT-PCR products were then purified by using Millipore (Billerica, MA, USA) microcolumns and subsequently analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing, or both. The analyte-specific reagent (ASR) primers and laboratory-developed diagnostic assay were used in accordance with requirements specified by the College of American Pathologists for use as part of molecular diagnostics testing performed at USAFSAM.

Prevention and Control

In addition to adopting prevention and control measures to mitigate transmission within its own training population,[9] Lackland AFB officials initiated actions to reduce spread to secondary training sites. Personnel screened outgoing BMTs from Lackland AFB for fever by placing chemical temperature dots on the forehead. Students with a temperature ≥100.5°F were held back from travel and housed in a medical-hold dormitory until their measured temperatures dropped below 100.5°F for 24 hours. Secondary training sites also adopted prevention and control measures to help incoming students and other assigned active duty members remain as healthy as possible.

Because it typically receives the most BMT graduates, Sheppard AFB instituted more aggressive case-finding procedures and prevention measures than any other secondary training site and fully implemented these actions by June 8, 2007, 12 days after enhanced surveillance efforts began. Their prevention efforts are described here; several other secondary sites instituted similar practices. All students arriving from Lackland AFB were screened for a measured fever ≥100.5°F and administered a questionnaire during in-processing. Students suspected of having ARD were further screened by a healthcare provider and sent to the clinic for treatment and testing as appropriate. Students with ARD were issued masks, grouped with other ARD students, placed on quarters (confined to their living area and restricted from participating in all work and leisure activities), and removed from all training activities. Students on quarters were not allowed to enter dining halls, and meals were instead brought to their rooms. Students were reevaluated by a healthcare provider after 24 hours on quarters and returned to duty if afebrile.

Sheppard AFB mandated that a virucidal cleaning agent be used several times per day to sanitize high-touch surfaces in facilities, including dining halls, classrooms, dormitories, buses, taxis, the post office, and other student-frequented establishments. In addition, hand washing and use of hand sanitizer were highly encouraged and closely monitored.

Upon completion of the training program, outgoing students were also screened for ARD by using the same questionnaire and a documented temperature. All students suspected of having ARD were placed on medical hold and evaluated by a physician to determine whether treatment was needed. After 24 hours they were reevaluated and released to travel if afebrile.