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UK Role 4 military infectious diseases and tropical medicine cases in 2005–2013
  1. Daniel S Burns1,2,
  2. M R Riley2,
  3. A Mason2 and
  4. M S Bailey1,3
  1. 1 Department of Infection and Tropical Medicine, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 Army Medical Directorate, Former Army Staff College, Camberley, UK
  3. 3 Academic Department of Military Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Daniel S Burns; danburns{at}


Introduction Infectious diseases are a frequent cause of morbidity among British troops. The aim of this paper is to describe the spectrum of infectious diseases seen when UK service personnel are evacuated for definitive care to the Role 4 Medical Treatment Facility based at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital.

Method A retrospective analysis of all military patients presenting with infectious diseases and treated at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital between 14 April 2005 and 31 December 2013 was undertaken.

Results During this period, 502 patients were identified. Infections originated in 49 countries, most commonly Afghanistan (46% cases), the UK (10% cases) and Belize (9% of cases). The most common presentations were dermatological conditions, gastroenterological illnesses and undifferentiated fevers.

Conclusion UK service personnel in significant numbers continue to suffer a wide range of infectious diseases, acquired throughout the globe, which often require specialist tertiary infection services to diagnose and manage. Future prospective data collection is recommended to identify trends, which in turn will inform military training needs and future research priorities in the Defence Medical Services (DMS) and allows development of appropriate policies and clinical guidelines for management of DMS personnel with infectious diseases.

  • infectious diseases
  • tropical medicine

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  • Contributors MRR and AM performed the data collection. DSB, MRR and AM performed the data analysis. DSB drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the editing and approval of the final draft. MSB envisaged the project and provided oversight throughout.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published. The ORCID ID for M R Riley was added.