Halting a pneumococcal pneumonia outbreak among United States Marine Corps trainees

Nancy F. Crum, Mark R. Wallace, Carla R. Lamb, Ava Marie S. Conlin, Dennis E. Amundson, Patrick E. Olson, Margaret A.K. Ryan, Ted J. Robinson, Gregory C. Gray, Kenneth C. Earhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in all age groups. Identifying outbreaks of pneumococcal disease and key risk factors may lead to improvements in vaccination and prevention strategies for high-risk groups. A significant outbreak of S. pneumoniae pneumonia that occurred among Marine recruits is reported here. Methods: An outbreak was investigated using standard microbiologic procedures and epidemiologic evaluation to define the extent of the outbreak, determine the microbiologic causative agent(s), identify risk factors for the development of disease, and institute preventive measures against further cases of pneumonia among recruits. Results: Fifty-two cases of radiographically confirmed pneumonia occurred among 3367 Marine recruits over a 2-week period in November 2000. Twenty-five of these cases occurred in a single company of 481 men, with an attack rate of 5.2%. Twelve of the 25 cases were caused by S. pneumoniae, serotypes 4 and 9v. The outbreak rapidly ended following isolation of cases, prophylaxis with oral azithromycin, and administration of the 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine. Conclusions: This outbreak of pneumococcal disease occurred in the setting of intense military training and a crowded environment. The use of the pneumococcal vaccine year-round in military trainees and other high-risk populations to reduce pneumococcal disease should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-111
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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