Chikungunya fever is a vector-borne viral disease in subtropical and tropical areas of endemicity. Apart from the burden on local populations, chikungunya virus infection also poses a risk for travelers and, in particular, soldiers during prolonged deployment-associated outdoor activities. The absence of rapid diagnostic tests makes surveillance challenging during military deployments in war and crisis zones with restricted medical infrastructure. Consequently, both historical and up-to-date surveillance data from battlefields are scarce. From several studies and postdeployment assessments, some information on the epidemiology of chikungunya virus infections in deployed military personnel is nevertheless available. The few published data homogeneously suggest a low infection risk in the endemic setting. During outbreaks, however, the infection risk of military personnel is comparable to that of the local population. Infection clusters of soldiers without pronounced outdoor activity have been reported under such circumstances as well. In spite of efforts focusing on the development of a chikungunya virus vaccine, no licensed product is available so far.
Keywords: chikungunya virus; epidemiology; military deployment; risk assessment; soldiers.