TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Measles were eliminated in the United States in 2000; however, since January, more than 700 cases of measles have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Active duty members, health care workers and international travelers who visit areas where the disease has not been eliminated may be at risk of developing measles and complications from it. But should everyone whose immunization records are not available be vaccinated as a precaution, or is it more cost effective to perform a blood test first to determine immunity?
That’s one of the questions that will be answered at the seventh annual 60th Medical Group Clinical Research Symposium June 17 at the David Grant USAF Medical Center dining hall patio from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Resident pharmacists and physicians will present the results of research projects conducted at DGMC to improve medical care not only in the Air Force, but the Department of Defense and the nation.
“The symposium allows residents to prepare for national conferences as well as focus on areas in medicine that benefit young, healthy adults,” said Dr. Bradley Williams, 60th MDG clinical research administrator. “Several of these presentations will be published and lead to national changes in medical practice.
For example, the research on energy drinks has resulted in recommendations that people with high blood pressure not consume them, said Williams.
“People with congenital heart conditions or long QT syndrome (a condition that can cause erratic hearth rhythm) should limit or monitor their consumption,” he said.
Presentations June 17 will cover topics such as screening for obstructive sleep apnea in young adults, how evacuation time after combat injury affects the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, the long-term risk of opioid abuse after combat injury and the impact of an efficient online and in-person running training program on military members.
Additionally, a new study will be announced: reducing health-risking sexual behaviors in service members to improve sexual and reproductive health.
“This year, there will also be a brief keynote presentation on the importance of including data from women in medical studies,” said Williams.
Lt. Col. Dawn-Kimberly Hopkins, 60th MDG chief of clinical research, said women are often left out of studies, which begs the question of whether or not a treatment that works for men would work the same way for women?
Residents will have five minutes to explain their research projects, which will be judged by DGMC leadership in terms of best poster, best delivery and best project.
Two of the projects already have been selected for presentation at the 2019 Military Health System Research Symposium Aug. 21 in Kissimmee, Florida.
“It’s where the best and brightest from all of the DOD and the Veterans Administration come to present their work,” said Williams.
Capt. (Dr.) Robert Wright and Capt. (Dr.) Carl Beyer, 60th MDG, will discuss their findings about prediabetes management and diagnosis at DGMC and long-term risk of opioid use after combat injury, respectively. The doctors earned two of 10 spots out of the thousands of research projects submitted for MHSRS, said Williams.
“If all the Army, Navy and Air Force are competing for 10 spots and David Grant gets two of them, that says a lot about the residents here,” he said.
More than half of the research projects presented at the DGMC symposium over the past six years have been presented at national medical and scientific meetings. About one-fourth have been published, particularly those dealing with trauma resuscitation, said Williams.
“No one else is doing research in this area, so it is important that the military does,” he said.
One of DGMC’s most significant research projects resulted in the development of the resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta, or REBOA, used to slow or stop hemorrhaging in a blood vessel while allowing blood to continue flowing to other body parts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of REBOA in January 2016.
Other Air Force research has resulted in improvements in pediatric care, neonatal ventilation and the treatment of the respiratory syncytial virus, a highly contagious virus that causes infections in the lungs and respiratory tract of infants and older adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“When the military develops research, it benefits the world,” said Williams.
For those who cannot attend the June 17 symposium, the military’s cost for the MMR test is less than $5.50 per sample. The cost for the vaccine is $36 per dose.
People who received two doses of the vaccine as children are usually considered protected. However, adults who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one booster shot, according to the CDC.
“The measles, mumps and rubella project provided evidence that 20% of civilians and military members arriving at DGMC without immunization records for MMR did indeed lack measles immunity,” said Williams. “Even during this measles outbreak, the risk is low for military members to get measles. The military will save money by performing (blood tests) first to determine immunity.”