This report analyzes the occurrence of Cryptosporidium spp., E. histolytica, and G. intestinalis in stool of returnees from military deployments and the impact of hygiene precautions. Between 2007 and 2010, stool samples of 830 returnees that were obtained 8-12 weeks after military deployments in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, the Balkans, Democratic Republic of the Congo/Gabonese Republic, and Sudan and 292 control samples from non-deployed soldiers were analyzed by PCR for Cryptosporidium spp., E. histolytica, G. intestinalis, and the commensal indicator of fecal contamination E. dispar. Data on hygiene precautions were available. The soldiers were questioned regarding gastrointestinal and general symptoms. Among 1122 stool samples, 18 were positive for G. intestinalis, 10 for E. dispar, and no-one for Cryptosporidium spp. and E. histolytica. An increased risk of acquiring chronic parasitic infections in comparison with non-deployed controls was demonstrated only for G. intestinalis in Sudan, where standardized food and drinking water hygiene precautions could not be implemented. Standard food and drinking water hygiene precautions in the context of screened military field camps proved to be highly reliable in preventing food-borne and water-borne chronic infections and colonization by intestinal protozoa, leading to detection proportions similar to those in non-deployed controls.
Keywords: deployment, field camp, food hygiene, water hygiene, parasite, real-time PCR.