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1991Serum Repository

Serum Repository (1991)

The DOD Serum Repository is the largest repository of its kind in the world. More than 42 million frozen, archived serum specimens related to over 8.5 million service members were stored there as of mid-2007. The Army Medical Surveillance Activity maintains the repository for medical surveillance purposes. The specimens are linked to demographic, occupational, deployment, healthcare encounter, and immunizations information via the Defense Medical Surveillance System.

The use of specimens is governed by DOD policy. Some examples of the specimen's use include:

  • Helping to determine the cause of diarrhea in service members deployed to Iraq,
  • Looking for evidence of exposure or infection with Hepatitis E (food-related) among deployed service members, and
  • Monitoring for evidence of avian H5N1 influenza infections among deployed troops.

Serum samples come from the routine screening for HIV antibodies and periodic medical examinations that military personnel are required to have. For most of the 1990s, serum specimens collected immediately before and after deployment have been kept at the repository. Specimens are stored in large walk-in freezers.