Back to Top Skip to main content

Cold injuries among active duty U.S. service members drop to lowest level since winter 2011–2012

U.S. service members often perform duties in cold weather climates where they may be exposed to frigid conditions and possible injury. U.S. service members often perform duties in cold weather climates where they may be exposed to frigid conditions and possible injury. (DoD photo)

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Winter Safety

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- U.S. service members who perform duties in cold weather climates face increased risk of injury from exposure to freezing conditions and wet environments. The Department of Defense conducts continuous surveillance to reduce the impact of cold weather on service members’ health and their mission accomplishment.

Overall incidence rates of cold injuries in U.S. service members declined during winter 2015-2016 after peaking in winter 2013-2014, when much of the eastern United States experienced much colder-than-average weather. This extreme cold was attributed to a weakening of the polar vortex, according to a recent analysis for the surveillance period 2011–2016.

The overall incidence rate for all active component service members in 2015-2016 (29.5 per 100,000 person-years [p-yrs.]) was 23 percent lower than the rate (38.2 per 100,000 p-yrs.) for the 2014-2015 cold season but slightly higher than the rates for the first two seasons of the surveillance period, according to a study published in Defense Health Agency’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch (AFHSB) peer-reviewed journal, the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report.

During the 2015-2016 cold season, 447 members of the active (n=383) and reserve (n=64) components had at least one medical encounter with a primary diagnosis of cold injury. The numbers of affected individuals in both components were the lowest since the 2011-2012 cold season, when the total was 394.

“For many years, the U.S. Armed Forces have developed and improved robust training procedures and protective equipment and clothing to counter the threat from cold environments,” said Air Force Col. Dana Dane, the chief of the AFHSB’s Epidemiology and Analysis section. “However, it is important that awareness, policies, and procedures continue to be emphasized to reduce the toll of such injuries.”

Army service members who received at least one diagnosis of a cold injury (rate: 53.1 per 100,000 p-yrs.) during the 2015-2016 cold season accounted for 66.6% of active component members affected among all services. The 74 members of the Marine Corps diagnosed with a cold injury represented 19.3% of all affected active component service members. Navy service members (n=19) had the lowest service-specific rate of cold injuries during the 2015 - 2016 cold season (rate: 5.8 per 100,000 p-yrs.).

Frostbite was the most common type of cold injury (n=146 or 36.8% of all cold injuries) among active component service members. In the Air Force, 45.9% of all cold injuries were frostbite, whereas in the other services, the proportions of cases of frostbite ranged from 38.7% (Army) to 26.7% (Marine Corps). For the Navy and Air Force, the 2015-2016 numbers and rates of frostbite injuries in active component service members were the lowest of the past five years.

Females had higher rates for frostbite than males during the five-year surveillance period. This was mainly because of the striking difference between the rates for female (75.4 per 100,000 p-yrs.) and male (50.3 per 100,000 p-yrs) service members in the Army.

Because winter is a peak season for cold weather injuries among service members, healthcare providers and military leadership need to help service members and their families understand the importance of taking winter safety precautions and actively employing cold injury prevention strategies.

“Continuing education on cold weather preparation and the proper use of winter safety equipment could play a crucial role in military efforts to combat this threat to the health and operational effectiveness of U.S. Armed Forces, especially during training sessions and deployments,” Dane said.

Any individual exposed to cold conditions is at increased risk for cold injury -- ranging from military members, athletes, and civilian workers to children. For information on the medical, public health and military impact of cold weather injuries, read about the Defense Medical Surveillance System (DMSS) used for this analysis and the article Safeguarding readiness during winter.

You also may be interested in...

GEIS Program collaborates to combat antibiotic resistance

Article
10/19/2020
Scientist in a lab

Through evolution, commonly circulating pathogens can develop resistance to antibiotics,

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

2019 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
9/30/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources | Worldwide TBI Numbers | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

2000-2019 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
9/30/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis from 2000-2019.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources | Worldwide TBI Numbers | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch

Update: Surveillance of Spotted Fever Rickettsioses at Army Installations in the U.S. Central and Atlantic Regions, 2012–2018

Article
9/1/2020
This photograph depicts a dorsal view of a female Gulf Coast tick, Amblyomma maculatum. This tick species is a known vector for Rickettsial organisms, Rickettsia parkeri, and Ehrlichia ruminantium, formerly Cowdria ruminantium. R. parkeri is a member of the spotted fever group of rickettsial diseases affecting humans, while E. ruminantium causes heartwater disease, an infectious, noncontagious, tick-borne disease of domestic, and wild ruminants, including cattle, sheep, goats, antelope, and buffalo. Note the considerably smaller scutum, or shield covering only a small region of its dorsal abdomen, unlike its male counterpart, an example of which can be seen in PHIL 10877, and 10878, which sports a scutum covering its entire dorsal abdomen. The smaller scutum in the female enables its abdomen to expand considerably, leading to an engorged appearance after ingesting its host blood meal. (Content provider: CDC/ Dr. Christopher Paddock)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Update: Incidence of Inguinal Hernia and Repair Procedures and Rate of Subsequent Pain Diagnoses, Active Component Service Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2019

Article
9/1/2020
Senegalese and Vermont National Guard medical care professionals repair a hernia at the Hopital de la Paix in Ziguinchor, Senegal, Feb. 14, 2018. Vermont Guardsmen work alongside Senegalese medical personnel to obtain real-world experience while providing valuable medical services as part of a Medical Readiness Training Exercise. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Avery Cunningham)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

Update: Routine Screening for Antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Civilian Applicants for U.S. Military Service and U.S. Armed Forces, Active and Reserve Components, January 2015–June 2020

Article
9/1/2020
Spc. Jayson Sanchez of the Army Reserve’s 77th Sustainment Brigade receives a blood draw from phlebotomist Nikole Horrell during the mass medical-readiness event hosted Aug. 8-9, 2015 by the Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., in an effort to increase Soldier readiness throughout the northeastern United States. More than 300 Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers had the opportunity to take care of their Periodic Health Assessments, dental exams, vision screenings, HIV blood draws, immunizations, hearing tests, LOD processing and temporary/permanent profiles during the event. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Salvatore Ottaviano, 99th Readiness Division)

Recommended Content:

Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

DHA recognizes 25 years of AFHSB's health surveillance journal

Article
8/12/2020
Medical technicians wearing masks and entering information on a computer

25 Years of Surveillance Reporting in Monthly Journal

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report

2007 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

2008 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

2009 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions

2010 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

2011 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

2012 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

2013 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources

2014 DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI

Publication
8/10/2020

DVBIC is the Defense Department’s office of responsibility for tracking TBI data in the U.S. military. On this page you’ll find annual and quarterly reports that provide data on the number of active-duty service members — anywhere U.S. forces are located — with a first-time TBI diagnosis since 2000.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Defense Medical Surveillance System | Surveillance Case Definitions | Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 20

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.