Gulf War Syndrome: A Real Disease? If So, What Causes It?


Gone But Not Forgotten
Sep 17, 2001
Kinda surprised there was no existing thread. Prompted by seeing this news story today:

Study debunks Gulf War bacteria theory
Antibiotic treatments did nothing, researchers say

Tuesday, July 20, 2004 Posted: 9:29 AM EDT (1329 GMT)

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A year on powerful antibiotics did nothing to relieve the chronic health problems reported by Gulf War veterans, demolishing the theory that so-called Gulf War syndrome is caused by a bacterial infection, researchers say.

The bacterial-infection theory "is off the table at this point," said Joseph F. Collins, a VA Maryland Healthcare System researcher and one of the study's authors. "It's disappointing, but the results are definitive: This is not the smoking gun."

The study was done by the Department of Veterans Affairs and was published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

An associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center was the principal investigator at the Nashville Veterans Hospital, which was among 20 such facilities around the country participating in the study.

Researchers have found that veterans of the Persian Gulf war in 1990 and 1991 are more likely to suffer from a range of chronic symptoms, including memory and thinking problems, debilitating fatigue, severe muscle and joint pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and rashes. However, the cause has proved elusive.

Theories include stress, bacterial infection, chemical or biological weapons, pollutants from burning oil fields, depleted-uranium munitions, and vaccinations for anthrax and other potential biological weapons.

The VA researchers studied 491 Gulf War veterans who complained of symptoms and who were found to have a bacterium called Mycoplasma in their bloodstream that was suspected to be the culprit. The veterans were randomly assigned to take either the broad-spectrum antibiotic doxycycline or a placebo daily for a year; neither the patients nor their doctors knew who was getting what.

The antibiotics at best did nothing, and at worst may have caused harm, the researchers concluded. The side effects included nausea and sun sensitivity. Also, scientists have long warned that indiscriminate use of antibiotics can promote the development of drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Simon Wessely of King's College in London praised the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which have spent more than $200 million on hundreds of studies researching Gulf War illness, for refusing to accept the continued and dangerous overprescription of antibiotics to tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans.

The positive news is that the study narrows the search for the culprit, said Stephen L. Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"This confirms information that has already been out there," he said. "We know that we can stop looking at this and we can focus research on other areas that might prove fruitful."

Collins said that it will be a long time, if ever, before the cause of Gulf War illness is identified.

"It may be that there were multiple exposures at low doses to multiple toxins that made people sick," Collins said. "And that's a very difficult thing to tease out."

He added: "The veterans are frustrated and they want answers, they want to know why they have this. But I'm not optimistic that medical research will ever to be able to reach a point in establishing a cause."

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

I really have no opinion, but there are certainly some diametrically opposed views out there. Chief among the naysayers has been Michael Fumento, writing for such publications as Reason Magazine. According to him GWS doesn't exist at all, even as a manifestation of Post Traumatic stress Disorder. It is a complete invention of 'junk science' and media hype.

180 degrees from that you have folks who are convinced it is a byproduct of vaccinations given to soldiers or possibly exposure to depleted uranium, and won't accept that trhe government isn't culpable for their illness and guilty of a cover-up.

And plenty of more gray area views in-between the two extreme positions.


US scientist challenges UK on Gulf war illness

James Meikle, health correspondent
Wednesday August 4, 2004
The Guardian

A US scientist who led investigations suggesting that nerve agents injured troops in the first Gulf war yesterday called on British researchers to join the hunt for reliable brain scans and other tests.

Robert Haley told Lord Lloyd's independent inquiry into war-related injuries that the US government had radically changed its attitude towards his work after other scientists replicated studies indicating brain damage in veterans.

There was a Gulf war syndrome, or at least a group of illnesses attributable to service in the gulf in 1991, he said. His group was now seeing whether experimental results on small groups of veterans could be extended by comparing brain images of veterans with those of others who were not deployed. Britain should join in.

"We don't know how that would play in the United Kingdom", he said. "It would be worth doing to get some brain imagery in this country."

Dr Haley, professor of medicine at the University of Texas's Southwestern medical centre in Dallas, made an overnight trip to London to make the plea before flying home.

"The question is how you determine who has the damage and who doesn't, and who needs to be cared for and maybe compensated. If we had an objective test that everyone agreed to then this would not be a difficult matter. We are developing biological understanding of that problem so that we can develop a reasonably inexpensive test you could apply to veterans."

Dr Haley's work was at first looked on with grave scepticism by the US government and other scientists, especially since effort was being concentrated on problems such as stress. But the billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate Ross Perot championed and funded his ground-breaking studies.

Dr Haley said some disease in veterans resembled early stages of well-known conditions such as Parkinson's.

Research by his team and others, he said, indicated that low-level sarin nerve gas, released by bombing attacks or post-war destruction of Iraqi factories and weapons stores, caused brain cell damage. In some cases, the agents may have acted in combination with pesticides or tablets taken as protection against nerve agents.

Troops particularly susceptible were those with low levels of a particular enzyme. "All it does is destroy nerve gas... Why did God put it there? I guess he knew the end of the story."

Among these troops, those under unseen clouds of sarin, particularly after raids early in the bombing war, were defenceless, he said. Similar damage had been seen in rats dosed with sarin by researchers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As in veterans, signs of disease were delayed.

Dr Haley said many symptoms reported by many veterans were attributable to such damage. He believed there were three sets of Gulf-related cell damage - the worst linked to confusion, vertigo and dizzy spells, a second related to thinking problems, depression and sleep disorders, and a third to pain, although symptoms overlapped.

Dr Haley hoped Lord Lloyd's inquiry would push for work exploring brain cells in Britain. Scientists could find a way of reversing the damage.

Mr Perot made a similar plea. "As the US government seems to be getting its act together and taking steps to right the wrongs of the last decade, I am here to urge the British government to join with us to solve this problem.

"I urge you to retire the clique of stress researchers here in the UK who have only refused the issues, and start a new research funding initiative, this time supporting a new group of neuroscience researchers who can contribute constructively to our understanding of the problem."

Guardian Unlimited
the uranium used in munitions has a lot to answer for in regard to all these symptoms
Gulf War syndrome Vets have damage in nervous system

Veterans with Gulf War syndrome have damage in specific, primitive portion of nervous system
28 Sep 2004

UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers have uncovered damage in a specific, primitive portion of the nervous systems of veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome.

UT Southwestern researchers report that damage to the parasympathetic nervous system may account for nearly half of the typical symptoms – including gallbladder disease, unrefreshing sleep, depression, joint pain, chronic diarrhea and sexual dysfunction – that afflict those with Gulf War syndrome. Their findings will be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Medicine and are currently available online.

"The high rate of gallbladder disease in these men, reported in a previous study, is particularly disturbing because typically women over 40 get this. It's singularly rare in young men," said Dr. Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology at UT Southwestern and lead author of the new study.

The parasympathetic system regulates primitive, automatic bodily functions such as digestion and sleep, while the sympathetic nervous system controls the "fight or flight" instinct.

"They're sort of the mirror image of each other – the yin and the yang of the nervous system – that control functions we are not usually aware of. This is another part of the explanation as to why Gulf War syndrome is so elusive and mysterious," said Dr. Haley.

Previously, isolating pure parasympathetic brain function was difficult. In the new study Dr. Haley and his colleagues used a technique that monitors changes in approximately 100,000 heartbeats over 24 hours and measures changes in high-frequency heart rate variability – a function solely regulated by the parasympathetic nervous system.

After plotting the subtle changes in heart function using a mathematical technique called spectral analysis, researchers found that parasympathetic brain function, which usually peaks during sleep, barely changed in veterans with Gulf War syndrome even though they appeared to be sleeping. In a group of well veterans tested for comparison, the brain functions increased normally.

"The parasympathetic nervous system takes care of restorative functions of the body. During sleep it's orchestrating that process, which is why we feel refreshed when we wake up," Dr. Haley said. "Its failure to increase at night in ill Gulf War veterans may explain their unrefreshing sleep."

The tests were conducted on 40 members of a Naval Reserve construction battalion, also known as Seabees. Both ill and healthy veterans from the same battalion were tested for comparison.

In addition, pure sympathetic nervous system functions were tested. In these tests, there were no appreciable differences between the two groups of veterans.

Dr. Haley first described Gulf War syndrome in a series of papers published in January 1997 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In previous studies, Dr. Haley and his colleagues presented evidence attributing the veterans' illness to low-level exposure to sarin gas – a potent nerve toxin – which drifted over thousands of soldiers when U.S. forces detonated Iraqi chemical stores during and after the Gulf War. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office confirmed that exposure to low-level sarin in the 1991 Gulf War was more frequent and widespread than previously acknowledged.

Subsequent research from Dr. Haley's group showed that veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome also were born with lower levels of a protective blood enzyme called paraoxonase, which usually fights off the toxins found in sarin. Veterans who were in the same area and did not get sick had higher levels of this enzyme.

Dr. Haley and his colleagues have closely followed the same group of tests subjects since 1995. A new grant from the U.S. Department of Defense will allow Dr. Haley's team to undertake a study in a much larger sample of Gulf War veterans.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the latest study include Drs. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, assistant professor of internal medicine; Gil Wolfe, associate professor of neurology; and Ronald Victor, chief of hypertension. Former UT Southwestern faculty members Drs. Wilson Bryan, Roseanne Armitage, Robert Hoffmann, Frederick Petty, and W. Wesley Marshall also contributed to this study, as did researchers from Phase 5 Sciences and Laboratory Industry Services, both in California.

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Perot Foundation.

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at

Contact: Katherine Morales
[email protected]
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

I seem to remember a programme on channel 4,in which some British soldier's described their chemical detector's sounding an alarm,maybe the coalition just didn't want to "sour" the victory by admitting some troop's had been chemically attacked?

coppermedic said:
I seem to remember a programme on channel 4,in which some British soldier's described their chemical detector's sounding an alarm,maybe the coalition just didn't want to "sour" the victory by admitting some troop's had been chemically attacked?
"Sour" it? Such an attack would have justified it!
Gulf War syndrome does exist, says report

Gulf War syndrome does exist, says report
By James Burleigh
17 October 2004

Gulf War syndrome has been demonstrated to exist by scientists in the US, according to The New York Times, quoting a report by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses.

In the report, which was leaked to the paper, Professor Beatrice Golomb, the committee's chief scientist, said that exposure to particular substances during the 1990-91 war may have affected some soldiers' body chemistry. It added that the troops' health problems were definitely caused by contact with toxic chemicals rather than stress or psychiatric illness.

Professor Golombe told Radio 4's Today programme: "Gulf war veterans really are ill at an elevated degree, and several studies bring consistent findings that about 25 to 30 per cent of those who were deployed are ill."

Noel Baker, the secretary of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Benevolent Association in Britain, described the findings as "explosive".

Mr Baker said: "This is senior research. It's not by any private venture or by someone with an axe to grind."

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the leaked report.
Gulf War Syndrome Does Exist, New Report

Gulf War Syndrome Does Exist, New Report
17 Oct 2004

According to American researchers, Gulf War Syndrome does exist. This will be welcome news to thousands of UK and US solders who fought in 1991 in the Gulf War and have been claiming they suffer from unexplained bad health.

These soldiers have been having a hard time getting authorities in both the US and UK to accept that their bad health had anything to do with the Gulf War.

A Research Advisory Committee on Gulf Veteran's Illnesses, USA, has confirmed that Gulf War Syndrome does exist. They also add that it could possibly be due to exposure to sarin gas from an Iraqi weapons depot. Another possibility, they say, could be the result of troops being given a drug to protects them from nerve gas.

Charles Plumridge, National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association, UK, said “Most Gulf veterans both in the States and in Britain have been claiming this for many years but our claims seem to have fallen on deaf ears. We're just hoping that this report will open people's ears and they will listen to us in times to come."
BBC News Online: Sarin 'Gulf war syndrome cause'
3 November, 2004

Gulf war syndrome may have been caused by exposure to the nerve gas sarin, according to reports.

The New Scientist journal has reported a leak of a US inquiry into the ill-health of veterans of the 1991 war.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs' Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses is due to publish its findings next week.

But the magazine said researchers have found neural damage consistent with the nerve agent used by Saddam Hussein.

The link is said to have been "crucial" to a change of heart by the US authorities over Gulf war syndrome.

The New York Times newspaper reported last month that US scientists believed the syndrome did exist and was caused by "toxic exposure" but it was not clear whether this was from drugs or nerve agents.

The UK government has always insisted a unique Gulf war syndrome does not exist.


But campaigners say 6,000 British war veterans are suffering from the syndrome, with symptoms ranging from mood swings, memory loss, lack of concentration, night sweats, general fatigue and sexual problems since the war.

According to the New Scientist report "a substantial proportion of Gulf war veterans are ill with multi-system conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness".

Instead, the magazine reported the ill-health could have been caused by low level exposure to sarin.

Three research groups had independently found specific kinds of neural damage that could explain some of the veterans' symptoms.

These veterans also had lower levels of an enzyme which breaks down sarin-like compounds.

British and US authorities have always denied that any troops were affected by nerve gas, as no soldiers showed the classic symptoms of acute exposure.

But the New Scientist said: "It now appears that very small, repeated exposure can also harm."

Experiments on animals have shown that exposure to doses of sarin too low to cause observable or immediate effects causes delayed, long-term nerve and brain damage similar to that seen in veterans, the magazine reported.


Troops could have had low level exposure to chemical weapons throughout the war.

A Senate investigation heard in 1994 that each of the 14,000 chemical weapons alarms around the troops went off on average twice or three times a day during allied aerial bombardment of Iraq - a total of between one and two million alarms.

All were said to have been false alarms. However, evidence was mounting that soldiers may in fact have been exposed to sarin, the New Scientist said.

Another source of exposure could have been for the thousands of troops stationed near Khamisiyah in southern Iraq in March 1991.

After the fighting was over, a large chemical weapons dump was blown up, creating a plume of gas, which would have contained sarin and which could have affected at least 100,000 allied soldiers, possibly far more, the New Scientist said.

Shaun Rusling, vice chairman of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, said: "I agree with the findings, it is what we expected.

"It is absolutely ridiculous for the MoD to deny Gulf war syndrome does not exist. UK troops were exposed to sarin and this, along with the multiple vaccinations troops were given and exposure to depleted uranium, has caused the illnesses."

The Ministry of Defence said it would not comment on leaks.

The department is holding a briefing on Thursday on the medical lessons learned from the first Gulf war.
Makes you wonder how they could have missed something like that for so long?

US in U-turn over Gulf war syndrome

19:00 03 November 04

Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.

Terence Walker is one of the lucky ones. On 19 January 1991 he was with 6000 British troops at Al Jubayl in Saudi Arabia, as the first Gulf war was beginning.

At around 3am there were loud bangs and flashes, and troops scrambled into gas masks as chemical detector alarms sounded. Some detectors in the area registered the nerve gas sarin, but the UK’s Ministry of Defence later said that these alerts were false alarms.

Since Walker returned home he has suffered from chronic diarrhoea, sweating, insomnia, muscle and stomach pain, fatigue, loss of memory and arthritis. That does not sound so lucky. But in 1997, after five years of trying, he won a full military pension on the basis of some of those symptoms. Many similarly afflicted Gulf veterans have failed.

Military pensions are awarded when someone’s disability or death can be proved to have been caused by service in the armed forces. Veterans of the first Gulf conflict say that the illnesses many of them now suffer follow a characteristic pattern and have a specific cause related to what happened to them in the area, and should therefore be classified as a specific disease: Gulf war syndrome.

But for more than a decade, the UK, US, Australian and Canadian governments have disputed this, claiming that their symptoms are hard to attribute and often psychological in origin.

Leaked report

Now the US authorities have changed their stance, prompted by recent American research which suggests there is a disease with a physical basis linked to chemical exposure in the Gulf.

The UK government still insists there is no link. But American researchers claim the studies the British are relying on were not designed in a way that would uncover the syndrome.

According to leaks of a report, which is due to be released next week by the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, “a substantial proportion of Gulf war veterans are ill with multisystem conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness”.

Some 30% of Gulf veterans suffer from various combinations of fatigue, muscle and joint pains, headache, and gut and cognitive problems – over and above non-Gulf veterans, the report says.

It blames damage caused by nerve gas and its antidotes, and organophosphate insecticides (OPs), which all block the enzyme that normally destroys acetylcholine, an important neural signalling chemical.

Sprayed soldiers

In the UK, an independent inquiry, funded anonymously and headed by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, is investigating the illness. Testimony to the inquiry reviewed by New Scientist shows that British troops were exposed to the same chemicals as the Americans.

Soldiers’ tents were sprayed with locally bought insecticides to ward off disease-carrying sandflies and mosquitoes, and Walker testified that some soldiers were even sprayed directly.

Like most troops, Walker also took pyridostigmine, a drug meant to block effects of nerve gas but which can also cause some of the same effects. And evidence is mounting that at Al Jubayl or elsewhere in the battle zone he could have been exposed to sarin.

On its website, the UK’s Ministry of Defence admits that Gulf veterans “have more symptoms and are suffering more severely from them”. But it states “the consensus of the international medical and scientific community is that there is insufficient evidence to enable this ill health to be characterised as a unique illness or syndrome”.

Large cheques

Psychiatrist Simon Wessely of King’s College London, who heads much of the UK’s research efforts into illnesses suffered by Gulf war veterans, told the Lloyd inquiry: “What is important is that there is a Gulf war health effect. The Gulf war syndrome debate is really just of academic importance.” Wessely says the veterans get the same symptoms as similar groups who did not go to the Gulf, “just more of them”.

But as British and US witnesses told the Lloyd inquiry, if there were recognised definitions for a service-induced syndrome, many Gulf veterans – some 60,000 in the US, and several thousand in the UK – would be able to claim pensions more easily.

Clearly, admitting the existence of a syndrome will cost money. Nicholas Soames, an opposition MP, who was Armed Forces Minister from 1994 to 1997 when the UK’s investigations of Gulf war illnesses began, told Lloyd: “The government of course are very reluctant to admit responsibility for something which is going to involve them in writing large cheques, and nowhere more so than the Ministry of Defence because there are so many potential claimants.”

False positives

Epidemiologist Robert Haley of the University of Texas in Dallas blames the US government’s past denial of a syndrome on a “10-year misadventure”. Expecting many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the US authorities tested large groups of veterans, using questionnaires designed to screen for PTSD. Some 20% tested positive. Roughly the same percentage were reporting ill health, so the authorities blamed the mysterious illnesses on stress, Haley says.

However, the tests they used were designed to pick out possible cases for psychiatric evaluation, not to give a definitive diagnosis, and normally give a false positive rate around 20%. Follow-up investigations in the US and UK later showed only some 3% really had PTSD, not nearly enough to account for the sick veterans. Yet the conviction that Gulf illness is somehow caused by stress has persisted.

“What we should have done was what we do for every new disease: establish a case definition,” Haley says. This means finding out what unusual symptoms people are reporting, then looking for those symptoms in larger groups to see if they are widespread, associated with particular histories, or if they occur in characteristic clusters.

With funding from billionaire businessman and one-time independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, Haley did just that. “When we talked to the veterans, certain symptoms really stood out,” he says. He then constructed a questionnaire to find out if two separate groups of veterans had similar symptoms.

Asking specific questions was crucial. “If you ask people, do you have aches and pains, people will say yes. But if you ask, do you have severe joint pains that keep you awake and last all day and for months, healthy people don’t. Gulf veterans do.”

Multisystem condition

Haley’s studies revealed three clusters of symptoms (see table), which he thinks are variants of the same disease (New Scientist print edition, 29 March 2003). His findings have been verified by other labs. Han Kang at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington DC found the same clusters when he compared 10,000 Gulf to 9000 non-Gulf veterans.

The case for Gulf war syndrome. CLICK to enlarge.

All were more frequent in Gulf veterans, and the most severe syndrome did not appear in non-Gulf veterans. Similar studies by Keiji Fukuda and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta concluded “a chronic multisystem condition was significantly associated with deployment to the Gulf”.

Studies of British veterans by Nicola Cherry, now in Canada at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, found a neurological syndrome significantly associated with the direct handling of OPs very much like Haley’s syndrome 2; she did not ask about nerve gas.

Another cluster with numbness, tingling and widespread pain seemed to correlate with heavy use of DEET insect repellent and bad reactions to anti-chemical weapons tablets, like Haley’s syndrome 3.

Wessely’s group uncovered clusters of symptoms but concluded that they did not qualify as unique syndromes. Haley says this was because the study did not ask about 12 of the 23 symptoms he found were crucial, and did include five others that he says obscured the pattern.

No single cause

Other researchers who found no such clusters asked less specific questions. A study of reproductive health of 42,818 male Gulf veterans by Rebecca Simmons and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also asked them to write down their other symptoms.

It was published in July, the week the Lloyd inquiry began, accompanied by a press release stating it had found no syndrome. But Simmons told New Scientist that it was not designed to find unusual clusters of symptoms.

Wessely told New Scientist: “There is not one single cause for the ill health,” adding that he believes we may never fully know what happened to the people who became ill.

Wessely asked both Gulf and non-Gulf veterans about 50 standard symptoms. “Gulf veterans reported every symptom twice as often,” he told the Lloyd inquiry. If there were a unique Gulf syndrome, some would be relatively more frequent in the Gulf group. “But they are just experiencing more ill health. There is no unique syndrome here.”

Wessely favours psychological explanations for Gulf war illnesses. The only thing that could have affected so many different people, he says, was stress, especially anxiety about chemical weapons, misinformation about Gulf war syndrome afterwards, and the many vaccinations Gulf troops received. His team found the more vaccine Gulf, but not non-Gulf veterans, received the more likely they are to be ill.

Haley says the questions in Wessely’s study were too vague to distinguish between a real syndrome and people who have, say, occasional dizziness or joint pain. He says this will confound efforts to uncover a meaningful pattern behind the veterans’ symptoms.

Nerve gas link

Wessely counters that Haley’s case definitions were not derived from large comparisons of Gulf to non-Gulf veterans. Haley says, without a precise case definition, such comparisons will only uncover non-specific increases in symptoms and do little to suggest causes.

Haley’s work has allowed precisely that exploration. Syndrome 2, the worst of the three, correlates strongly with exposure to OPs and suspected exposure to the nerve gas sarin.

Toxic Battlefield. CLICK to enlarge.

Furthermore, Haley’s team and two other groups have independently found specific neural damage that could explain some of the veterans’ symptoms. These veterans also had lower levels of the variant of an enzyme, paraoxonase, which breaks down sarin-like compounds.

The nerve gas link is crucial to the change of heart in the US. British and US authorities have denied there was any damage to troops as no soldiers showed the classic symptoms of acute exposure. But it now appears that very small, repeated exposure can also harm.

Experiments on animals have shown that exposure to doses of sarin too low to cause observable immediate effects causes delayed, long-term nerve and brain damage similar to that seen in veterans.

“False” alarms

It now appears there was plenty of sarin about. The US Department of Defense told a Senate investigation in 1994 that each of the 14,000 chemical weapons alarms around the troops went off on average two or three times a day during allied aerial bombardment of Iraq – a total of between 1 and 2 million alarms.

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US Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses

Gulf war syndrome public inquiry, UK

Gulf veterans’ illnesses, Ministry of Defence, UK

Simon Wessely, King’s College

Robert Haley, University of Texas

Nicola Cherry, University of Alberta

“All alarms were said to be false,” James Tuite, a consultant to the investigation, told the Lloyd inquiry. But UN inspectors later found Iraqi chemical weapons dumps damaged by bombing, upwind of the Kuwait-Saudi border – where troops were most likely to later become ill (see map).

In particular, the blowing up of a large chemical weapons dump at Khamisiyah in March 1991 – after the fighting was over and chemical weapons detectors had been removed – created a plume of gas, which would have contained sarin and which could have affected at least 100,000 Allied soldiers, possibly far more.

A Congressional study released in June this year found that the plume was “significantly higher” (taller) than the DoD claimed in its analysis in 2000, so the chemicals in it could have drifted over a wider area. Meanwhile, it found that two epidemiological surveys based on that analysis, which found no ill health linked to sarin exposure, were fundamentally flawed. The VA agreed.

The UK’s prime minister, Tony Blair, has stated that there is no use holding an official government inquiry – which Lloyd’s was not – until all the research is in. Gulf war veterans say that now may be time.

Debora MacKenzie
I don't often post but in response to the orignal question and the well reported use of various vaccines to protect soldiers against chemical/bio warfare agents, I would suspect that the siad pumping of the these highly reactive chemical cocktails inot the bodies of our troops has had an effect on the health of those troops that were given them.

After all if these vaccines were completely safe, we would all be gven them. but we aren't.

Perhaps if the troops had been exposed to chemical warfare agents the vaccines would have something to neutralise as opposed to foloating in or squaddies systems.

The jury is still out offically. We'll just have to wait 'til the next war, which sould be next summer by my reckoning. Then when we have 50,000 troops globally complaining of ill health the health officinados may have to admit there is a problem.
There was a V. interesting documentary on at the weekend about it that drew links between the mild and potentially harmless (relatively) small doses of sarin (an organophosphate based nerve agent) from the bombing of the chemical weapons factory and the spraying of organophosphate pesticides in large quantities to kill insects in the troops tents. On their own both harmless but combined will amplify each other. Apparently a similar small release occured in the states (sorry to be vague) and because of this effect killed a number of sheep that had been dipped in Organophosphate sheep dip.

Another thing that was a little dodgy was the admittance by the US Army's Surgeon General that all records of Nerve Gas alarms were destroyed or lost. The logs in both hard copy and electronic versions were stored in two seperate locations and both have vanished.
The symptoms certainly have 'organo-phosphates' written all over them.




US report links toxins to Gulf war syndrome

James Meikle, health correspondent
Saturday November 13, 2004
The Guardian

Troops who have fallen ill since the first Gulf war may have fallen victim to a ticking toxic timebomb, advisers to the US government said last night.

Scientists and veterans from the 1991 conflict went further than any previous official body either side of the Atlantic in identifying a complex chemical cocktail of nerve agents, pills to protect troops from those agents and multiple pesticides as a possible cause for their health problems.

Psychiatric illness, combat experience or other stresses from deployment did not explain ill health in the "vast majority" of 100,000 sick US veterans, according to the advisers' report. On the contrary, evidence supported a "probable link" between the toxins and veterans' illness.

Many troops had been exposed to substances belonging to a class of compounds that affected the nervous system and a "growing body of research" indicated that ill veterans differed from healthy ones "on objective measures of neuropathology and impairment."

Animal studies indicated that exposure to nerve agents at levels too low to produce acute symptoms could result in "chronic adverse effects on the nervous and immune systems". In addition, research suggested that if the neurotoxins were combined, they would be more poisonous.

Lord Morris of Manchester, who has campaigned for veterans both here and in the US, said: "This is a major development in unravelling the truth about thousands of still unexplained Gulf war illnesses. Scientific opinion in the US increasingly rejects the old medical consensus attributing the illness to wartime stress and psychiatric illness. I am calling for an urgent ministerial statement here in the UK."
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The report was published by the US department of veterans affairs. The committee responsible included Robert Haley, the scientist who has suggested that three types of Gulf-related cell damage exist in veterans, the worst associated with confusion and vertigo, another related to thinking problems, depression and sleep disorders, and a third to pain.

This is not accepted here although there is consideration as to whether some of the 6,000 British veterans who have complained of illness should undergo similar brain scans. The Ministry of Defence insists there is no Gulf war syndrome, and no more deaths among veterans than among troops who never went to the Gulf.

It accepts that many more veterans who served there report illness. Research led by Simon Wessley of King's College, London, has suggested that people who had a battery of vaccinations and received them in the Gulf area, rather than before deployment, were more likely to report illness.

The new report says no further research into stress as a primary cause of the illnesses should be funded under federal Gulf war programmes. Instead, more work should be done to investigate the chronic effects of exposure to pesticides and nerve gas, as well as the effects of tablets taken to protect against nerve gas.

Earlier this year, a Congressional investigation blamed the bombing of weapons dumps during the war, or their destruction aftewards, for releasing chemical agents that might have spread wider than previously thought.

It said the destruction of weapons bunkers at Khamisayah in southern Iraq in March spread into Saudia Arabia and well into Iran. This is not accepted by the British government.

The research committee also wants the health of veterans' children monitored, and will pursue further research into infections diseases, vaccines, smoke from burning oil wells and depleted uranium in anti-tank shells.



Mal F
Call to recognise Gulf War effect

Some 6,000 Gulf veterans have suffered from various complaints.

An independent inquiry has concluded that Gulf War syndrome probably does exist.
The inquiry called on the Ministry of Defence to accept thousands of veterans suffered ill health as a result of their service in the 1991 conflict.

It said the MoD should establish a special fund to make compensation payments to veterans whose health had been damaged.

The inquiry was headed by the former law lord Lord Lloyd of Berwick.

About 6,000 veterans of the conflict are believed to be suffering from ill health.

The inquiry report said all the scientific studies agreed Gulf veterans were twice as likely to suffer from ill health as if they had been deployed elsewhere.

It accepted the illnesses suffered by the veterans were likely to be due to a combination of causes.

These included multiple injections of vaccines, the use of organophosphate pesticides to spray tents, low level exposure to nerve gas, and the inhalation of depleted uranium dust.

Further research was needed to try to pinpoint the causes more precisely, the report said.

Lord Lloyd believes illnesses must be properly recognised
However, that was no reason for the MoD not to accept that the illness were the result of service in the Gulf.

The inquiry was set up at the request of Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester, the parliamentary adviser to the Royal British Legion, after the MoD refused an official inquiry.

The MoD refused to allow serving officials or military personnel to appear before the inquiry although it did submit written evidence.

However, the inquiry was still able to take evidence from former personnel including the commander of the British forces in the Gulf, General Sir Peter de la Billiere, scientific experts, and some 35 veterans or their families.




Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 12:57 GMT

Gulf vets welcome illness report
Image of Shaun Rusling
Mr Rusling won an appeal after he was denied his army pension
An independent inquiry has concluded thousands of Gulf War veterans were made ill by their service.

Shaun Rusling and Noel Baker, who have experienced a variety of illnesses since serving in the Gulf, are among hundreds of veterans who will be pleased by the report's publication.

They say it vindicates veterans, proving they are not malingerers and have a real condition.

They now want recognition of their illness from the Ministry of the Defence.


Mr Rusling, 42, said: "We are extremely grateful to Lord Lloyd for his independent inquiry and his findings are far more favourable than we expected.

"We fully support Lord Lloyd in his findings and we hope that the MoD will accept the recommendations as they are entirely reasonable and we do not see why they cannot do so."

In 1991, Mr Rusling was sent to the Persian Gulf to serve as an army field medic treating wounded soldiers and civilians.

Image of Noel Baker and Lord Lloyd
It shows that we are not malingerers, we are not making it up - there is a real problem.
Gulf veteran Noel Baker

Call to recognise Gulf War effect

In May 2003, he won an appeal after he was denied his army pension.

An appeal court ruled that Gulf War syndrome did exist - and was caused by active service.

Gulf veteran Noel Baker, 38, from Medway in Kent, said he had suffered multiple sclerosis, a cyst in his spleen and episodes of skin cancer since serving with the Queen's Royal Lancers in the first Gulf War.

"I am really pleased, almost to the point of being happy.

"I would like to see the Ministry of Defence take up the recommendations in Lord Lloyd's report, but I cannot see them doing a u-turn just yet.


"The cynic in me says they are going to keep their heads down and try to ride out the storm.

"This report vindicates the veterans, the people who have given evidence and it shows that we are not malingerers, we are not making it up - there is a real problem.

"It is tinged with sadness that it has taken us 14 years to get this but it is good news. It gives us another stepping stone to go forward."

Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who chaired the independent inquiry, said: "What the veterans now want above all else is a clear recognition by the Ministry of Defence that they are ill because they served in the Gulf.

"It is not acceptable for the MoD to say 'yes you are ill, but since we do not know which of the possible causes has caused your particular illness, we are not going to admit your illness is due to your service,'" he said.

The MoD said it had always accepted that some veterans had become ill with illnesses which were related to their Gulf experiences, such as post traumatic stress disorder.

A spokeswoman said the MoD would consider the reports findings.



Mal F
UK Gulf Veterans Mortality Data

UK Gulf Veterans Mortality Data: Causes of Death - 1990/1991 Gulf Conflict
17 Jan 2005 ... wsid=18971

This Statistical Notice provides summary statistics on the causes of deaths among the UK veterans of the 1990/91 Gulf Conflict between 1 April 1991 and 31 December 2004. The mortality rates of 53,409 UK Gulf veterans were analysed alongside those of a comparison group, the Era cohort. The Era comparison group consists of 53,143 UK Armed Forces personnel of similar age, gender, Service, regular/reservist status and rank who were in Service on 1st January 1991 but did not deploy to the Gulf.

The findings include those who died while in Service and those who died after they had left the Services. The statistics are based on deaths reported to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) up to 31st December 2004, updating the previous notice for deaths reported up to 30 June 2004 released on 14th July 2004.

Further information on deaths that may have occurred during the period 1st April 1991 to 31st December 2004, reported to the MoD after the release of this publication, will be added to future publications.

Since the publication of the previous notice, we have examined further trends in some cause-groups. We have found differences between the Gulf and Era cohort age groups: although each Era cohort age group was randomly sampled to have the same size as the corresponding Gulf cohort age group, those who were aged 40 years or over on 1 January 1991 who deployed to the Gulf were often younger than those sampled for the Era cohort. We have therefore adjusted all our figures for the Era cohort to the single years of age structure of the Gulf cohort, as at 1 January 1991, to ensure appropriate comparisons. The main impact is to slightly reduce the previously noticed excess of deaths in the Era cohort caused by disease-related conditions, and cancer in particular, increasing the similarity between the two cohorts. The effect on accidental deaths is minimal.

DASA will make age-adjusted figures for previous versions of this notice available on their web-site in the near future.

Key points

There were 687 deaths among the Gulf veterans up to the 31 December 2004, an increase of 24 since the last release in July 2004. There were an estimated 688 deaths in the age-adjusted Era comparison group up to 31 December 2004.

The 687 deaths among Gulf veterans compares with approximately 1,085 deaths which would have been expected in a similar sized cohort taken from the general population of the UK with the same age and gender profile.

Issued by
Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA)

Press Office: 020 721 83253
Statistical enquiries:
Nick Blatchley,
Tel 01225 468456
[email protected].


A National Statistics publication

National Statistics are produced to high professional standards. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

For general enquiries about National Statistics, contact the National Statistics Customer Contact Centre:

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Another strain???
Fort Bragg Officer's Hiccups, Death A Mystery

POSTED: 7:31 pm EST March 26, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- The family of a Fort Bragg officer recently back from Iraq said Capt. Terrance Wright seemed to hiccup almost constantly for weeks before he died earlier this month.

The Army said Wright died of an unknown illness shortly after returning from Iraq in February. His body was found in a Fayetteville motel room on March 2.

Wright's mother, Sandra Wright, and an aunt, Karen Wright, said Wright had been a healthy 33-year-old before he deployed to Iraq in November. It was his second tour in Iraq.

Karen Wright said she spoke to her nephew in Iraq in early February.

"He could not speak one sentence without hiccuping," she said.

Wright was seen by doctors in Germany and at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., before being sent to a doctor at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg last month, said Capt. Kevin Broadnax, an Army casualty assistance officer.

Federal privacy laws bar the Army from saying why Wright was being seen at Womack, hospital spokeswoman Shannon Lynch said.

An autopsy performed on Wright's body by Womack doctors was inconclusive, Lynch said. The hospital is waiting for the results of toxicology tests, she said.

Karen Wright said she talked to her nephew again on Feb. 17 while he was at Walter Reed. Again, he "hiccuped constantly" but didn't complain about anything, she said.

She said she next spoke to her nephew Feb. 19, when he called from Fayetteville to say he would catch a train the next day to his native Charleston, S.C.

Capt. Wright spent three days in Charleston, his mother said. He hiccuped the entire time and looked "weak in the eyes," Karen Wright said.

The officer returned to Fayetteville and checked into a motel on Feb. 24. A motel clerk said she knew Wright because he had stayed there before. She said he looked tired when she saw him last.

Karen Wright said the last time anybody reported seeing her nephew was Feb. 25, five days before his body was found.

On that day, according to Sandra Wright, a captain in his battalion said she asked her son if he was feeling all right. Capt. Wright had been sweating profusely, Sandra Wright said she was told.

Karen and Sandra Wright described Capt. Wright as a quiet, soft-spoken man who rarely complained.

"We are waiting for answers," Sandra Wright added. "We want to be able to know what happened to him."

Karen Wright said a bottle of lisinopril, a medication to lower blood pressure, was found in Capt. Wright's belongings in the motel room. The bottle indicated that the prescription was filled on Feb. 1. All 30 pills remained inside, Karen Wright said.

Capt. Wright's death follows the deaths of two North Carolina soldiers who died after returning from the Middle East and experiencing flu-like symptoms.

State epidemiologist Jeffrey Engel said the deaths of Special Forces Capt. Gilbert A. Munoz and Army Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Rogers, a reservist, were related only in their timing.

Munoz, 29, appears to have had a bacterial infection and the flu, Engel said. He died of pneumonia Feb. 9. Rogers, 37, died on Feb. 14, just two days after he began feeling ill, his wife said.
Churches make Gulf War help call

Churches make Gulf War help call
Leading Scottish churchmen have called on the UK Government to do more to help the servicemen and women who became seriously ill after the 1991 Gulf War.
The unexplained illnesses have become known as "Gulf War Syndrome".

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr David Lacy, and Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien have written to the prime minister.

They also wrote to all Scottish MPs and MSPs urging them to "bring closure" to this "unhappy state of affairs".

The call came almost a year after an independent inquiry concluded that thousands of UK Gulf War veterans had suffered illness.

Compensation payments

The inquiry, headed by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, called on the government to accept the existence of Gulf War Syndrome - something it has consistently refused to do.

The former law lord also called for the Ministry of Defence to establish a special fund to make compensation payments to veterans of the 1991 conflict whose health had been damaged.

Dr Lacy and Cardinal O'Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, called for an end to what they described as a "wrong to bereaved families and men and women in broken health that only their public representatives can redress".

Their letter said: "This is not an issue for party animus but one on which Scotland's public representatives and churches should work together to achieve a humane settlement without further delay."

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 383702.stm

Published: 2005/10/28 00:02:27 GMT

As a serving soldier i spent over 14 months in the region (during and after the "war")
I took all the medication jabs (anthrax and plague FFS) and nerve pretreatment tablets, i lived in the "sprayed" tents in Al Jubal , i was at the port when the "reported" "false" chemical alarms sounded, and personal monitors did indeed show a presence of chemical agents and i transported huge amounts of DPU tipped ammo. I also went back to "clean up" Kuwait , in some places near the old fields the smoke was so thick you didn't see daylight for days! Physically i feel OK, i have had however a few minor mental problems (about 3 months after "Gulf War" i started to get serious migraines, and some sort of bi polar brain storm).. but none of the apparently horrific physically debilitating symptoms, reported by so many.
So i really don't know what to think, i do feel/know i was affected in some way, but it seems I'm one of the lucky ones.
Had friends who served in the first one. Bipolar effects etc may be due to stress (wow, applause all round), but one friend developed a 'rash' over his arms, back and legs (totally clear beforehand and not a naturally spotty person). Doctors haven't a scooby and though he's not 'ill' per se, he ain't a happy bunny. The main problem is trying to determine which effects are part and parcel of natural human response to medicine and environment (and sadly not significant) and which are the symptoms that are 'the syndrome'? nb. Yes, I know that syndrome as a concept is problematic...
Gulf War veteran wins test appeal

Gulf War veteran wins test appeal

An ex-soldier has won a "landmark decision" to be awarded a disability pension for Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). The Pensions Appeal Tribunal (PAT) said GWS could be used as an "umbrella term" to cover the ailments suffered by Daniel Martin, 35.

The ex-guardsman, who suffers from memory problems, asthma and anxiety, said he felt "vindicated" by the ruling.

His case could potentially help hundreds of ex-servicemen.

Mr Martin, from Luton, Bedfordshire, welcomed the ruling, saying: "I am quite pleased, and I feel vindicated and very pleased for the good it might do to other servicemen.

"I don't know what to feel, really. It has been awful."

This is going to have massive implications for hundreds of Gulf War veterans, who clearly suffer from Gulf War Syndrome
Solicitor Mark McGhee

Mr Martin added: "I have had to see so many doctors and been knocked down so many times by the MoD and Veterans Agency, I feel pleased now that a court of law looked at all the evidence and came up with the conclusion I have known all along."

And Mark McGhee, of Linder Myers solicitors, who represented Mr Martin at the tribunal, said: "This is a landmark ruling.

"It is the definitive case on Gulf War Syndrome to date. Daniel stuck to his guns and has been vindicated, and this is going to have massive implications for hundreds of Gulf War veterans, who clearly suffer from Gulf War Syndrome."

The National Gulf Veterans and Families Association said that of the 7,500 veterans who have made a claim for a disablement pension, 1,500 have claimed GWS, and only two cases had been heard so far.

'Highly regrettable'

The tribunal, which hears appeals from ex-service staff who have had their claims for a war pension rejected by the secretary of state for defence, agreed with Lord Lloyd's previous inquiry in 2003.

That found that "veterans of the Gulf War later developed an excess of symptomatic ill-health over and above that to be expected in the normal course of events" and "there is a Gulf War health effect".

The judgment in Mr Martin's case differs from that in the case of a fellow Gulf War veteran, Shaun Rusling.

In Mr Rusling's case, decided in 2003, the onus was on the Ministry of Defence to prove that GWS did not exist.

In Mr Martin's case, the onus was on him to prove that he did have GWS.

His success has led Gulf War veterans to claim the Ministry of Defence "doesn't have a leg to stand on" in future cases.

Cases pending

The tribunal said: "The term Gulf War Syndrome is the appropriate medical label to be attached to this excess of symptoms and a useful umbrella for that label.

"It is highly regrettable that there was such a delay in the Ministry of Defence accepting this approach."

The MoD said it was considering the tribunal's judgement, and would not comment on how the case could affect those of other ex-servicemen and women.

But a spokeswoman added: "We welcome the tribunal's decisions concerning the main issue which was placed before it.

"And that was that there is insufficient reliable evidence to indicate that GWS exists as a discreet pathological [disease causing] entity. It refers to a broad range of symptoms."

She added that Mr Martin had already been awarded a pension, on the grounds that he was suffering from psoriasis.

However, Mr Rusling, who is vice president of the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association (NGVFA), said the judgement in Mr Martin's case was "very significant".

He said: "It means they haven't got a leg to stand on."

"Daniel Martin had to prove that he had GWS, and the Pensions Appeal Tribunal he has the condition."

He added: "We're now going to demand that the MoD deals with the other cases that are pending. There is no justification for not doing so."

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 394436.stm

Published: 2005/11/01 02:07:34 GMT

Analysis: Gulf War ruling

Analysis: Gulf War ruling

A former soldier has been awarded a pension after a tribunal accepted he had Gulf War Syndrome.

The ruling in the case of Daniel Martin accepted GWS as an "umbrella term" to cover his ailments, which are attributable to his service in the 1991 conflict.

The former Life Guardsman, who made his first application for a disability pension based on symptoms he suffered after the conflict, said he was "relieved" at the ruling.

"I am quite pleased, and I feel vindicated and very pleased for the good it might do to other servicemen."

I feel vindicated
Daniel Martin

Of the 7,500 veterans who have made a claim for a disablement pension, 1,500 have claimed GWS.

Two year's ago, the High Court ruled in favour of another former soldier - Shaun Rusling - who claimed to have Gulf War Syndrome.

In Mr Rusling's case, the onus was on the Ministry of Defence to prove that GWS did not exist.

The judge ruled that in future cases, such as Mr Martin's, the onus would be on the veteran to prove it did.


Veterans have been at loggerheads with the Ministry of Defence since the first Gulf War, arguing over the existence of a syndrome linked to exposure to vaccinations and biological and chemical weapons.

Many former soldiers say they have suffered serious ill health since the war, experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, joint pains and fever.

Having the name officially recognised is a crucial to the veterans' campaign.

Neither Mr Rusling's, nor Mr Martin's cases centred on the definition of what constituted Gulf War Syndrome.

Neither did they look at the symptoms which might make up the condition.

But the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association said the two judgements combined mean the Ministry of Defence "doesn't have a leg to stand on".

However the Ministry of Defence stands by its position there is no proof that GWS is a "discreet pathological entity" - a specific condition with a specific cause.

A spokeswoman said they were "carefully considering" the judgement in Mr Martin's case.

But Professor Malcolm Hooper, chief scientific adviser to Gulf War veterans, said: "The important thing is that the MoD have conceded the label of GWS - although not as a specific disease entity.

"It means we're playing with semantics."

He said he now hoped that other veterans making similar claims would have their cases settled swiftly.

"If there's any justice at all, that's what will happen. The case for GWS has now been made unambiguously and unequivocally in duplicate."

Story from BBC NEWS: ... 396118.stm

Published: 2005/11/01 13:57:39 GMT

Is Gulf War syndrome real?

The Times November 09, 2005

Is Gulf War syndrome real?

From the Under-Secretary of State for Defence

Sir, The headline of your report (November 1) on the appeal brought by Daniel Martin to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal wrongly stated that the “Ministry of Defence concedes existence of Gulf War syndrome”.

The phrase Gulf War syndrome has long had a popular usage and the department has acknowledged this. However, there remains no basis for recognising it as a diagnostic label. The consensus of the medical community remains that there are too many different symptoms reported for this ill-health to be characterised as a discrete medical “syndrome”.

Despite this, the MoD has compensated more than 5,000 veterans of the Gulf War under the War Pension and Armed Forces Pension Schemes. We compensate for disablement due to service irrespective of the label, the symptoms in question being recognised under different names. The MoD also provides continuing medical help to veterans through the Gulf Veterans Medical Assessment Programme, based at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.

The MoD has published an enormous amount of information on Gulf-related illness. We are committed to openness with respect to our continuing scientific and medical research, on which we have spent about £8 million to date.

While the tribunal has introduced the concept of “Gulf War Syndrome” as an “umbrella term”, it has supported the current consensus of expert opinion which is that “the reliable evidence clearly indicates that there is no discrete pathological entity” labelled “Gulf War syndrome”; in other words it does not exist as a recognised disease.

Ministry of Defence
London SW1 ... 08,00.html
The Times November 23, 2005

Accepting Gulf War Syndrome

Sir, I would like to add to the excellent points made by Lord Lloyd of Berwick and Dr Jones (letter, Nov 12) about Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). Since 2002 I have served on the US Department of Veterans Affairs Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses.
The committee produced a report, based on a review of the scientific literature and testimony from many researchers that was published in November 2004.

Gulf War veterans were found to experience significantly (26 to 32 per cent) more multi-symptom illness than veterans who did not serve in the Gulf and also more than veterans of the Bosnian conflict. Their conditions could not be explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness. There is also growing evidence that an important component of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses is neurological in character.

The individual symptoms experienced by ill Gulf War veterans are not unique to that group, which is perhaps one reason why there has been resistance in some quarters to accepting the term GWS. However, what is striking is that more than 30 per cent of Gulf War veterans reported moderate to severe symptoms involving three or more types of symptom compared with less than 5 per cent of the comparison group. It is this clustering of the individual symptoms in the case of Gulf veterans that further supports the description GWS.

The issue of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, among Gulf veterans is an example of the benefit, to the veteran, of connecting Gulf War service with disability. Gulf veterans have developed ALS at twice the rate of comparison populations and the Veterans Association now maintains a registry for all veterans with ALS and provides service-connected disability compensation for Gulf War veterans with ALS.

Even though we cannot yet prove a causal relationship between the specific toxic insults to which veterans were exposed and each illness symptom, once it is accepted that service in that theatre of war is linked to a heightened risk of illnesses coming under the GWS umbrella label, the burden of proof on the veteran for the cause of their illness is lightened. Is this why the Ministry of Defence so resists the term Gulf War Syndrome?

(Former CEO, UK Microbiological Research Authority, Porton Down), Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Washington ... 32,00.html
An illness of Gulf veterans
From the Under-Secretary of State for Defence

Sir, The suggestion by Nigel Graveston (letter, Nov 15) that there are parallels between the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Gulf veterans’ illness has little basis beyond the fact that both are characterised by symptoms affecting many body systems and organs.

SLE is a serious autoimmune rheumatic disorder with symptoms in almost any organ or body system. Symptoms are accompanied by verifiable clinical signs and abnormal laboratory test results, including evidence of immune dysfunction.

Diagnosis depends on meeting the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology. The aetiology is unknown but there are genetic, hormonal and environmental elements.

By contrast, symptoms of those who have claimed war pensions for “Gulf War Syndrome” are not associated with clinical signs or abnormal test results. International expert opinion agrees that there is no discrete pathological process and there has been no increased mortality. Similar nonspecific symptoms are reported by Gulf veterans with widely differing exposures and experiences. The conditions are reported in veterans who did not experience combat and in some who did not deploy. In addition similar symptoms are reported in military personnel and veterans who played no part in the 1990-91 Gulf conflict.

The difference is that, in Gulf veterans, the reported symptoms are more severe and more common. These symptoms are not associated with abnormal laboratory test results. The allegation that vaccines were administered in a “cavalier fashion” is untrue. The vaccines had long been used individually on human beings for non-military purposes without significant side- effects.

The allegations also fail to address the urgent and deadly threat faced by British forces at that time — it was imperative that we adopted sensible measures to protect our troops against the very real possibility of Iraq using chemical or biological weapons. Indeed, we would have been failing in our duty of care had we not done so.

The Ministry of Defence has undertaken an extensive programme of research into the illnesses of Gulf veterans — to date there is no clinical evidence to suggest that the vaccines given to Gulf veterans are a cause of ill-health.

Ministry of Defence
London SW1 ... 68,00.html
No Evidence Of 'Iraq War Syndrome', The Lancet
This Article
Also Appears In
Mental Health

Main Category: Psychology / Psychiatry News
Article Date: 18 May 2006 - 1:00am (PDT)

UK researchers have found no evidence for a new Iraq War syndrome in male armed forces personnel deployed to the 2003 conflict. They report their findings in a paper published online today (Tuesday May 16, 2006) by The Lancet.

UK armed forces personnel who took part in the 1991 Gulf War experienced an increase in symptoms of ill health, commonly known as Gulf War syndrome. There has been speculation about an Iraq War syndrome.

Simon Wessely and colleagues from King's College London, UK, compared the health of male regular UK armed forces personnel who were deployed to the 2003 Iraq War with those not deployed, and compared these findings with those from their previous survey after the 1991 Gulf War. Over 8 000 individuals completed a health questionnaire. The researchers found only slight rises in common symptoms in the 2003 Iraq War group but nothing equivalent to that observed after the Gulf war. They also found that fatigue was not increased after the 2003 Iraq War but was greatly increased after the 1991 Gulf War.

Dr Wessely concludes: "Increases in common symptoms in the 2003 Iraq War group were slight, and no pattern suggestive of a new syndrome was present."

Joe Santangelo
[email protected].
Lancet ... wsid=43499
Re: Gulf War Syndrome: A Real Disease? If So, What Causes It

lopaka3 said:
Researchers have found that veterans of the Persian Gulf war in 1990 and 1991 are more likely to suffer from a range of chronic symptoms, including memory and thinking problems, debilitating fatigue, severe muscle and joint pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and rashes. However, the cause has proved elusive.

During the first world war, weren't some of these symptoms attributed to shell shock. And could some sort of virus be responsible for some of the symptoms, something like meningitis.
Gulf War vets death rate 'lower'

The figures compare veterans and personnel not deployed
The death rates of Gulf War veterans are lower than servicemen not deployed in the conflict, figures suggest.
Statistics from the Ministry of Defence show that, out of 53,409 Gulf War veterans, there were 784 deaths.

In a comparison group of 53,143 personnel with similar gender, status and rank not deployed in the conflict, there were 818 deaths.

The figures form part of the ongoing monitoring of veterans involved in the 1991 conflict.

This data clearly shows that UK veterans of the 1990/1991 Gulf conflict do not suffer a higher overall mortality rate compared with service personnel who did not deploy

Tom Watson
Veterans minister

The latest figures compare with about 1,265 deaths to be expected in a similar-sized group of similar age and profile from the general UK population.

In a written statement to the Commons, veterans minister Tom Watson said the results showed service personnel had good levels of fitness.

"While any death is a matter for regret, this data clearly shows that UK veterans of the 1990/1991 Gulf conflict do not suffer a higher overall mortality rate compared with service personnel who did not deploy."

National Gulf Veterans and Families Association (NGVFA) general manager Maria Rusling said the figures could deter people from the joining the armed forces.

"I'd be very concerned if more people are dying from a non-war situation," she said.

"That for me would strike a huge question mark."

Back in March, researchers suggested there was no single cause for Gulf War illness.

The journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society published 16 papers outlining research into possible causes, such as exposure to chemicals.

Researchers said effects on servicemen's health had been seen but that there was no direct scientific link between serving in the 1991 Gulf War and a syndrome.

But the NGVFA said a series of medical disasters had caused illness.
IMO government statistics are made up and not to be trusted.

IMO the Gulf War Syndrome may either by a product of hypochondriac (did I spell that right?) imagination or if real, then it was the stuff they injected into soldiers as well as the stuff they were exposed to in their day to day work in the Middle East.