Respiratory Viruses
Viral respiratory pathogens are easily transmitted person-to-person, creating high risk of infection in crowded or population dense environments. Historically, military populations have been at high risk for acute respiratory infections, especially among recruits and deployed personnel. At times, the living conditions under which U.S. military members operate are austere, crowded and stressful, which makes these individuals particularly vulnerable to infection and transmission of respiratory pathogens like influenza compared to civilian populations. Emerging respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2 can cause global pandemics, creating significant disturbance to public health and military readiness. AFRIMS maintains an extensive research network in Southeast Asia to track and characterize endemic and emerging respiratory viruses, contributing to the World Health Organization Influenza Surveillance Network and force health protection studies as well as the development and testing of vaccine and diagnostic countermeasures. AFRIMS's extensive research and disease surveillance network is poised to rapidly detect and overcome disease threats as they arise. 


Influenza is generally a self-limited disease characterized by abrupt onset of high fever, cough, sore throat or fatigue lasting for several days. Severe disease including pneumonia as well as bacterial superinfection can occur and is typically found in the elderly, very young and chronically ill or immunocompromised. Influenza is notable for its capacity for both antigenic drift and antigenic shift which lead to heightened risk for epidemic spread. Given its ability to spread rapidly through confined spaces and varying efficacy of vaccines from year to year, influenza represents a significant threat to force health protection, contributing to lost duty days.


With over 89 million cases and greater than one million deaths worldwide (as of 10 Jan 2021 per the World Health Organization), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the causative virus of coronavirus disease 2019, has had impacts far and wide. A betacoronavirus in the same family as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 1 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, the relative ease of transmission of this respiratory pathogen combined with limited treatment and initial absence of vaccine have led to much interest and study since initial discovery in late 2019. One of the troubling observations is that people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 can transmit the virus to others before they have symptoms or without ever having symptoms of disease. Its emergence and rapid spread poses a significant danger to Service Members and civilians alike around the world. 
Retrovirology | Veterinary Medicine | Virology