Background Military recruits are at a higher risk of acute respiratory disease (ARD) and the causative agents might change over time, which needs to be investigated.
Methods The nasopharyngeal swabs and blood samples were consecutively collected from conscripts for three years in a military training center. The real-time fluorescent quantitative PCR assays were conducted for 15 species of common respiratory pathogens; the serum anti-Legionella pneumophila antibodies were detected by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) assay, and serum anti-Microplasma pneumoniae antibodies, serum anti-influenza B virus and anti-influenza A virus-IgM and IgG were detected by ELISA.
Results The prevalences of ARD were 59.3% (108/182) in 2008, 23.3% (50/215) in 2009, and 19.6% (40/204) in 2010. Among the patients with ARD from 2008 to 2010, the influenza B virus infection accounted for 45.4%, 30.0% and 55.0%, and seasonal influenza A virus infection for 8.3%, 8.0% and 5.0%, respectively; the positive rates of serum anti-Legionella pneumophila and anti-Microplasma pneumoniae antibodies in recruits was lower than 10% each year respectively in the three years without diagnostic significance.
Conclusion The early appropriate diagnosis and treatment of ARD in military personnel will ensure the power strength of armed forces.