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Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

thumbnail image of several MSMRsThe Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR), a peer-reviewed journal launched in 1995, is the AFHSB's flagship publication. The MSMR provides monthly evidence-based estimates of the incidence, distribution, impact, and trends of health-related conditions among service members. Additionally, the MSMR focuses one issue per year on the absolute and relative morbidity burden attributable to various illnesses and injuries among service members and beneficiaries. You may request an electronic subscription online or via email

Would you like to be published in the MSMRAuthors are welcome to submit their manuscripts to the MSMR. >>See Instructions for Authors

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Here, you can download the current and past issues of the MSMR. Inquiries regarding content or material to be considered for publication should be directed to the MSMR Editor.

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Citing the MSMR

When citing MSMR articles, please use the following formats:

Author Names Listed with the Article

Collier DA, Bayles MK, Barrett, JP. Acute gastroenteritis outbreak at the Armed Forces Retirement Home, Washington, DC, January 2011. MSMR. 2011;18(6):11-14.

No Author Name Listed (April 2007 to current)

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. Mental disorders and mental health problems, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2000 – December 2009. MSMR. 2010;17(11):6-13.

No Author Name Listed (Before April 2007)

Army Medical Surveillance Activity. Overhydration and hyponatremia among active duty soldiers, 1997-1999. MSMR. 2000;6(3):9-11.


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Vasectomy and Vasectomy Reversals, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2017

Article
3/1/2019
Sperm is the male reproductive cell  Photo: iStock

During 2000–2017, a total of 170,878 active component service members underwent a first-occurring vasectomy, for a crude overall incidence rate of 8.6 cases per 1,000 person-years (p-yrs). Among the men who underwent incident vasectomy, 2.2% had another vasectomy performed during the surveillance period. Compared to their respective counterparts, the overall rates of vasectomy were highest among service men aged 30–39 years, non-Hispanic whites, married men, and those in pilot/air crew occupations. Male Air Force members had the highest overall incidence of vasectomy and men in the Marine Corps, the lowest. Crude annual vasectomy rates among service men increased slightly between 2000 and 2017. The largest increases in rates over the 18-year period occurred among service men aged 35–49 years and among men working as pilots/air crew. Among those who underwent vasectomy, 1.8% also had at least 1 vasectomy reversal during the surveillance period. The likelihood of vasectomy reversal decreased with advancing age. Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic service men were more likely than those of other race/ethnicity groups to undergo vasectomy reversals.

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Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Testosterone Replacement Therapy Use Among Active Component Service Men, 2017

Article
3/1/2019
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This analysis summarizes the prevalence of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) during 2017 among active component service men by demographic and military characteristics. This analysis also determines the percentage of those receiving TRT in 2017 who had an indication for receiving TRT using the 2018 American Urological Association (AUA) clinical practice guidelines. In 2017, 5,093 of 1,076,633 active component service men filled a prescription for TRT, for a period prevalence of 4.7 per 1,000 male service members. After adjustment for covariates, the prevalence of TRT use remained highest among Army members, senior enlisted members, warrant officers, non-Hispanic whites, American Indians/Alaska Natives, those in combat arms occupations, healthcare workers, those who were married, and those with other/unknown marital status. Among active component male service members who received TRT in 2017, only 44.5% met the 2018 AUA clinical practice guidelines for receiving TRT.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2018

Article
3/1/2019
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This report summarizes incidence rates of the 5 most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among active component service members of the U.S. Armed Forces during 2010–2018. Infections with chlamydia were the most common, followed in decreasing order of frequency by infections with genital human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, genital herpes simplex virus (HSV), and syphilis. Compared to men, women had higher rates of all STIs except for syphilis. In general, compared to their respective counterparts, younger service members, non-Hispanic blacks, soldiers, and enlisted members had higher incidence rates of STIs. During the latter half of the surveillance period, the incidence of chlamydia and gonorrhea increased among both male and female service members. Rates of syphilis increased for male service members but remained relatively stable among female service members. In contrast, the incidence of genital HPV and HSV decreased among both male and female service members. Similarities to and differences from the findings of the last MSMR update on STIs are discussed.

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Update: Incidence of Glaucoma Diagnoses, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2017

Article
2/1/2019
Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that involves progressive optic nerve damage and vision loss, leading to blindness if undetected or untreated. This report describes an analysis using the Defense Medical Surveillance System to identify all active component service members with an incident diagnosis of glaucoma during the period between 2013 and 2017. The analysis identified 37,718 incident cases of glaucoma and an overall incidence rate of 5.9 cases per 1,000 person-years (p-yrs). The majority of cases (97.6%) were diagnosed at an early stage as borderline glaucoma; of these borderline cases, 2.2% progressed to open-angle glaucoma during the study period. No incident cases of absolute glaucoma, or total blindness, were identified. Rates of glaucoma were higher among non-Hispanic black (11.0 per 1,000 p-yrs), Asian/Pacific Islander (9.5), and Hispanic (6.9) service members, compared with non-Hispanic white (4.0) service members. Rates among female service members (6.6 per 1,000 p-yrs) were higher than those among male service members (5.8). Between 2013 and 2017, incidence rates of glaucoma diagnoses increased by 75.4% among all service members.

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Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Article
2/1/2019
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Malaria infection remains an important health threat to U.S. service mem­bers who are located in endemic areas because of long-term duty assign­ments, participation in shorter-term contingency operations, or personal travel. In 2018, a total of 58 service members were diagnosed with or reported to have malaria. This represents a 65.7% increase from the 35 cases identi­fied in 2017. The relatively low numbers of cases during 2012–2018 mainly reflect decreases in cases acquired in Afghanistan, a reduction due largely to the progressive withdrawal of U.S. forces from that country. The percentage of cases of malaria caused by unspecified agents (63.8%; n=37) in 2018 was the highest during any given year of the surveillance period. The percent­age of cases identified as having been caused by Plasmodium vivax (10.3%; n=6) in 2018 was the lowest observed during the 10-year surveillance period. The percentage of malaria cases attributed to P. falciparum (25.9 %) in 2018 was similar to that observed in 2017 (25.7%), although the number of cases increased. Malaria was diagnosed at or reported from 31 different medical facilities in the U.S., Afghanistan, Italy, Germany, Djibouti, and Korea. Pro­viders of medical care to military members should be knowledgeable of and vigilant for clinical manifestations of malaria outside of endemic areas.

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Outbreak of Acute Respiratory Illness Associated with Adenovirus Type 4 at the U.S. Naval Academy, 2016

Article
2/1/2019
Malaria case definition

Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are known to cause respiratory illness outbreaks at basic military training (BMT) sites. HAdV type-4 and -7 vaccines are routinely administered at enlisted BMT sites, but not at military academies. During August–September 2016, U.S. Naval Academy clinical staff noted an increase in students presenting with acute respiratory illness (ARI). An investigation was conducted to determine the extent and cause of the outbreak. During 22 August–11 September 2016, 652 clinic visits for ARI were identified using electronic health records. HAdV-4 was confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction assay in 18 out of 33 patient specimens collected and 1 additional HAdV case was detected from hospital records. Two HAdV-4 positive patients were treated for pneumonia including 1 hospitalized patient. Molecular analysis of 4 HAdV-4 isolates identified genome type 4a1, which is considered vaccine-preventable. Understanding the impact of HAdV in congregate settings other than enlisted BMT sites is necessary to inform discussions regarding future HAdV vaccine strategy.

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Re-evaluation of the MSMR Case Definition for Incident Cases of Malaria

Article
2/1/2019
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The MSMR has been publishing the results of surveillance studies of malaria since 1995. The standard MSMR case definition uses Medical Event Reports and records of hospitalizations in counting cases of malaria. This report summarizes the performance of the standard MSMR case definition in estimating incident cases of malaria from 2015 through 2017. Also explored was the potential surveillance value of including outpatient encounters with diagnoses of malaria or positive laboratory tests for malaria in the case definition. The study corroborated the relative accuracy of the MSMR case definition in estimating malaria incidence and provided the basis for updating the case definition in 2019 to include positive laboratory tests for malaria antigen within 30 days of an outpatient diagnosis.

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Acute Flaccid Myelitis: Case Report

Article
1/1/2019
Acute Flaccid Myelitis

In August 2018, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted an increased number of reports of patients in the U.S. having symptoms clinically compatible with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). AFM is characterized by rapid onset of flaccid weakness in one or more limbs and distinct abnormalities of the spinal cord gray matter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Clinical and laboratory data suggest that AFM is associated with an antecedent viral infection. AFM may be difficult to differentiate from other causes of paralysis and, given that it is rare, has the potential to be overlooked. This case highlights important clinical characteristics of AFM and emphasizes the importance of including AFM in the differential diagnosis when evaluating active duty service members and Military Health System (MHS) beneficiaries presenting with paralysis.31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Cardiovascular Disease-related Medical Evacuations, Active and Reserve Components, U.S. Armed Forces, 1 October 2001–31 December 2017

Article
1/1/2019
Cardiovascular Diagnoses

From 1 October 2001 through 31 December 2017, a total of 697 medical evacuations of service members from the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility were followed by at least one medical encounter in a fixed medical facility outside the operational theater with a diagnosis of a cardiovascular disease (CVD). The vast majority of those (n=660; 94.7%) evacuated were males. More than a third of CVD-related evacuations (n=278, 39.9%) occurred in service members 45 years of age or older; slightly more than half (n=369; 52.9%) occurred in reserve or guard members. The most common CVD risk factors which had been diagnosed among evacuated service members prior to their deployment were hypertension (n=236; 33.9%) and hyperlipidemia (n=241; 34.9%). Much lower percentages had been previously diagnosed with obesity (n=74, 10.6%) or diabetes (n=21, 3.0%). More than 1 in 4 service members with a CVD-related medical evacuation had been diagnosed with more than one risk factor (n=182, 26.1%). Both limitations to the data available and strategies to reduce CVD morbidity in theater are discussed.31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2017

Article
1/1/2019
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

During 2002–2017, the most common incident adrenal gland disorder among male and female service members was adrenal insufficiency and the least common was adrenomedullary hyperfunction. Adrenal insufficiency was diagnosed among 267 females (crude overall incidence rate: 8.2 cases per 100,000 person-years [p-yrs]) and 729 males (3.9 per 100,000 p-yrs). In both sexes, overall rates of other disorders of adrenal gland and Cushing’s syndrome were lower than for adrenal insufficiency but higher than for hyperaldosteronism, adrenogenital disorders, and adrenomedullary hyperfunction. Crude overall rates of adrenal gland disorders among females tended to be higher than those of males, with female:male rate ratios ranging from 2.1 for adrenal insufficiency to 5.5 for androgenital disorders and Cushing’s syndrome. The highest overall rates of adrenal insufficiency for males and females were among non-Hispanic white service members. Among females, rates of Cushing’s syndrome and other disorders of adrenal gland were 31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Historical Perspective: Leptospirosis Outbreaks Affecting Military Forces

Article
1/1/2019
Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Leptospirosis is a widespread and highly prevalent bacterial zoonotic disease that is caused by pathogenic spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. It is transmitted to humans primarily through contact of abraded skin or mucous membranes with water or wet soil that has been contaminated with infected animal urine. Many wild and domestic animals are susceptible to infection by pathogenic Leptospira bacteria including rats, dogs, cattle, goats, sheep, and swine. Once chronically infected, a carrier animal can shed Leptospira bacteria in urine for long periods of time and Leptospira bacteria can survive in water or soil for weeks to months.higher among non-Hispanic white service members compared with those in other race/ethnicity groups. In both sexes, the annual rates of adrenal insufficiency and other disorders of adrenal gland increased slightly during the 16-year period.31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Thyroid Disorders, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008–2017

Article
12/1/2018
Thyroid scan

This analysis describes the incidence and prevalence of five thyroid disorders (goiter, thyrotoxicosis, primary/not otherwise specified [NOS] hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, and other disorders of the thyroid) among active component service members between 2008 and 2017. During the 10-year surveillance period, the most common incident thyroid disorder among male and female service members was primary/NOS hypothyroidism and the least common were thyroiditis and other disorders of thyroid. Primary/NOS hypothyroidism was diagnosed among 8,641 females (incidence rate: 43.7 per 10,000 person-years [p-yrs]) and 11,656 males (incidence rate: 10.2 per 10,000 p-yrs). Overall incidence rates of all thyroid disorders were 3 to 5 times higher among females compared to males. Among both males and females, incidence of primary/NOS hypothyroidism was higher among non-Hispanic white service members compared with service members in other race/ethnicity groups. The incidence of most thyroid disorders remained stable or decreased during the surveillance period. Overall, the prevalence of most thyroid disorders increased during the first part of the surveillance period and then either decreased or leveled off.31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Adrenal Gland Disorders, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002–2017

Article
12/1/2018
Adrenal Glands

During 2002–2017, the most common incident adrenal gland disorder among male and female service members was adrenal insufficiency and the least common was adrenomedullary hyperfunction. Adrenal insufficiency was diagnosed among 267 females (crude overall incidence rate: 8.2 cases per 100,000 person-years [p-yrs]) and 729 males (3.9 per 100,000 p-yrs). In both sexes, overall rates of other disorders of adrenal gland and Cushing’s syndrome were lower than for adrenal insufficiency but higher than for hyperaldosteronism, adrenogenital disorders, and adrenomedullary hyperfunction. Crude overall rates of adrenal gland disorders among females tended to be higher than those of males, with female:male rate ratios ranging from 2.1 for adrenal insufficiency to 5.5 for androgenital disorders and Cushing’s syndrome. The highest overall rates of adrenal insufficiency for males and females were among non-Hispanic white service members. Among females, rates of Cushing’s syndrome and other disorders of adrenal gland were 31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Incidence and Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome Using ICD-9 and ICD-10 Diagnostic Codes, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002–2017

Article
12/1/2018
Metabolic Syndrome

This report uses ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes (277.7 and E88.81, respectively) for the metabolic syndrome (MetS) to summarize trends in the incidence and prevalence of this condition among active component members of the U.S. Armed Forces between 2002 and 2017. During this period, the crude overall incidence rate of MetS was 7.5 cases per 100,000 person-years (p-yrs). Compared to their respective counterparts, overall incidence rates were highest among Asian/Pacific Islanders, Air Force members, and warrant officers and were lowest among those of other/unknown race/ethnicity, Marine Corps members, and junior enlisted personnel and officers. During 2002–2017, the annual incidence rates of MetS peaked in 2009 at 11.6 cases per 100,000 p-yrs and decreased to 5.9 cases per 100,000 p-yrs in 2017. Annual prevalence rates of MetS increased steadily during the first 11 years of the surveillance period reaching a high of 38.9 per 100,000 active component service members in 2012, after which rates declined slightly to 31.6 per 100,000 active component service members in 2017. Validation of ICD-9/ICD-10 diagnostic codes for MetS using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria is needed to establish the level of agreement between the two methods for identifying this condition.

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Exertional heat injuries pose annual threat to U.S. service members

Article
7/20/2017
Two U.S. service members perform duties in warm weather where they may be exposed to extreme heat conditions and a higher risk of heat illness.

Exertional heat injuries pose annual threat to U.S. service members, according to a study published in Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) peer-reviewed journal, the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report.

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Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Summer Safety
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