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March 14, 1966

An Outbreak of Mycoplasma pneumoniae Infection in a Nuclear Submarine

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Belvidere Hospital, London Rd, Glasgow, Scotland (Dr. Sommerville). Lt Sawyer is medical officer, USS Sam Houston.

JAMA. 1966;195(11):958-959. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100110126042

A NUMBER OF STUDIES have drawn attention recently to the association between acute respiratory infections and the presence in the respiratory tract of Mycoplasma pneumoniae in civilian1,2 and in military populations.3,4 The symptomatology has varied from a mild illness, resembling the common cold, through severe and deep-seated pneumonitis with pronounced constitutional upset.

We recently had the opportunity to study an outbreak of respiratory illness due to this agent which occurred among the crew members of a nuclear submarine on patrol, and, as many of the features were of unusual interest, we describe them here.

Outbreak  This occurred on board a fleet ballistic-missile submarine operating from Holy Loch, Scotland. The crew is based in New London, Conn and flies to Scotland three weeks before deployment on patrol. Each patrol lasts eight weeks and the crew is continuously isolated from the surface atmosphere for seven of these weeks. During this

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