pneumonia among our forces in Iraq & Afghanistan

  1. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...erillness.html
    By Pauline Jelinek
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    1:06 p.m., August 5, 2003
    WASHINGTON - The Army is telling troops to take precautions as it tries to figure out the cause of pneumonia cases, including two deaths, among forces in the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns.
    Officials are investigating the cause of some 100 cases of the illness counted since March, focusing on 15 cases so serious the patients had to be put on ventilators and flown to Europe, defense officials said at a Pentagon press conference Tuesday.
    "We're deeply concerned about the deaths," David N. Tornberg, a deputy assistant secretary for health policy, said of the two fatal cases. "We'd like a comprehensive understanding to be available to the families, to the husbands, to the wives of our servicemen so they better understand the nature of these conditions."
    So far, officials have pretty much ruled out exposure to anthrax, smallpox or any other biological or chemical weapon; to Legionnaires' disease; or to SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, said Col. Robert DeFraites, chief of preventive medicine in the Army surgeon general's office.
    DeFraites said officials believe two of the cases were streptococcal pneumonia, caused by common bacteria. The cause of the rest of the cases remains a mystery.
    The 15 serious cases - among 14 men and one woman - have been spread throughout Southwest Asia. Ten of the 15 were in Iraq, but others were as far away as Uzbekistan, DeFraites said. Fourteen of the victims were Army members and one a Marine.
    There was no apparent connection between the 15 most serious cases. They were from different units, and their cases were spread over time - two in March, two in April, one in May, six in June and four in July. The last confirmed case was July 30, DeFraites said.
    A two-person investigative team has gone to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where most of the cases were treated after evacuation. A six-person team en route to Iraq includes infectious disease experts, laboratory workers and people who will take samples of soil, water and air as well as medical samples from patients.
    The two teams will review patient records and laboratory results and interview health care workers and patients, if possible.
    In the meantime, officials also are hoping to limit the number of new cases. Soldiers are being told to avoid becoming dehydrated in the intense heat and dust; protect themselves against breathing dust by wearing masks; and water down dusty surfaces before they sweep. Heavy dust storms have been a problem in Iraq.
    "And finally, we all know that definitely cigarette smoking is a risk factor for pneumonia no matter what age, no matter what population," DeFraites said. "We emphasize that normally to the troops anyway, but this is even more a reason to avoid cigarette smoking."
    Armywide, pneumonia cases serious enough to warrant hospitalization happen in about 9 of 10,000 soldiers per year, so the 100 cases are not unexpected. It is the severity of the 15 cases that has caused special concern.
    Between 400 and 500 soldiers get pneumonia every year in the Army worldwide, DeFraites said, though it might surprise some that "otherwise young, healthy adults" get the illness.
    From 1998 through 2002, 17 soldiers have died from complications from pneumonia, he said.
    "So even in this day and age, we still, unfortunately, lose some soldiers due to pneumonia," he said.
    Military spokesman Colonel Guy Shields dismissed concern about the number of troops affected by pneumonia. Officials said there was no evidence that any of the cases were caused by exposure to chemical or biological weapons, environmental toxins or SARS
    •  
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    So many things plague forces at war. I remember, when my husband was in Desert Storm, he wrote of the horrible case of dysentary blazing its way thru the troops in his tent and squadron. Lots became dehydrated quite quickly, as you can imagine in soaring 100+-temps in Saudi Arabia. Plus, for those not sick enough to be stuck in the medical dispensary, it was NOT fun running for the commode tent for the 5th time in the dark. I still have the letters telling me about all the things they dealt with over there. It amounts to this: Being in close quarters with less than sanitary conditions, eating crappy food , being exposed to different bacteria and viruses often unencountered prior to foreign travel, and getting very little (OR NO) sleep all are contributors to the proliferation of illnesses plaguing our troops deployed to fight overseas. I pray for them and their families during this very trying time. It is so stressful for them. I think of them EVERYDAY!
  4. by   roxannekkb
    Poor guys. I'm in the middle of writing a CME about pneumonia, and then I read that. The dust alone must be getting in their lungs--most are not used to desert life, I'm sure!
  5. by   Brownms46
    Not to mention the stress they're dealing with 24/7. But who cares ..huh??? I mean they just need to suck it up...right??? !!!

    Noo they need to start seeing who they know in politics, so they can get rushed ahead of anyone else and get out early...
  6. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.gulfwarvets.com/news13.htm

    American Gulf War Veterans Association
    Joyce Riley vonKleist, RN,BSN spokesperson
    P.O. Box 85, Versailles, Missouri 65084
    (573) 378-6049 (573) 378-5998 fax
    www.gulfwarvets.com <http://www.gulfwarvets.com/>, gulfwar@dam.net <mailto:gulfwar@dam.net>
    PRESS RELEASE
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    AUGUST 7, 2003
    NEW REVELATION SURFACES ABOUT
    GULF WAR II 'MYSTERY DISEASE'
    The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA), an independent Gulf War Veterans' support organization, has long searched for answers to explain why nearly half of the 697,000 Gulf War I Veterans are now ill and why over 200,000 of those servicemen/women have requested disability, but have received no adequate diagnosis or treatment, from either the Department of Defense (DOD), or Veteran's Affairs. Though there have been over 125 studies done by the government at the cost of over $300,000,000 to the taxpayer, we still have no answers as to what caused so many of our soldiers to become ill. Meanwhile, the suffering veterans are receiving little, if any, medical treatment for this illness. It seems that whenever veterans become ill, the term "mystery illness" seems to be the first and often the only diagnosis that is ever made. Veterans are then left to fend for themselves, sick and unable to work, with little hope of a normal life again.
    The AGWVA is now again asking questions, this time, about the newest "mystery illness" to hit the military. After being pressured by a few independent news reporters who have not permitted this "mystery" to continue unabated, The DOD recently has been forced to announce the "mystery" deaths of Gulf War II soldiers and that at least 100 other men and women have become ill. Again, however, there were no adequate answers, but, only that the "mystery illness" diagnosis had reared its ugly head again. According to a family member of one of the military victims, the DOD recently, has changed its label of the illness and is now calling it "pneumonia" in sharp contrast to what a physician on the scene reported. Due to continuing pressure for sound answers, the DOD was again forced to send an investigative team to Iraq, however the convenient, repeated lack of diagnosis, unfortunately translates into lack of treatment, and lack of compensation for the veteran. The jury is still out, however, if the DOD will be forthcoming with the truth this time.
  7. by   pickledpepperRN
    GULF WAR II 'MYSTERY DISEASE'
    <http://www.gulfwarvets.com/news13.htm>

    Contrary to the "pneumonia" and "mystery illness" labels, enlightening information surfaced today on "THE POWER HOUR <http://www.thepowerhour.com>" radio show in an interview with Mark Neusche, father of Josh Neusche, one of the GW II troops to lose his life from the "mystery illness" while serving in Iraq. The father stated that his 20-year-old healthy son, a former track star and non-smoker, had written home on June 26th explaining that he would be going on a 30-hour "hauling" mission, but that he could not disclose what they would be hauling. The son had stated that he had been to the Palace of Sadaam Hussein, and it was later learned that he was "hauling" at the Baghdad Airport.
    Marsha Paxson also appeared on the show, as she is the journalist who broke the U.S. story for the Lake Sun Leader <http://www.lakesunleader.com>. Although the "facts" behind this story are continually changing, Ms. Paxson is one of the few journalists who is remaining true to the facts of the original story. Ms. Paxson revealed in her articles that the father reported that his son was not the only ill soldier. Neusche stated that while his son was in a coma at Landstuhl Hospital, the father overheard the nurses say that they were expecting numerous sick troops to be brought in all at one time. In fact, the father actually witnessed approximately 55 other troops being received by the hospital after they were transported by a military ambulance (bus). According to the father, the transported troops were exhibiting varying degrees of the illness. Some walked, some were in wheelchairs and others were on respirators. In the commotion, a doctor reported to the father that his son was suffering from a "toxin." No mention of pneumonia was ever made to him, nor was it ever reported in the medical record.
    Paxton and the AGWVA now question the diagnosis, the actual number of troops that were reported ill, and when the DOD first became aware of this incident.
    One of the most surprising statements to come from The Power Hour interview conducted on "The Genesis Network" was that while the son, Josh Neusche, was a healthy young soldier on June 26, 2003, when he reported that he was going to serve on the secret hauling mission, by July 1, 2003, he was in a coma, and that day was suddenly classified by the military, as medically retired from the Army without Josh or his family's consent. Josh did not die until July 12, 2003. Among other problems that this new classification created was that the DOD was no longer obligated to assist the family in getting to Germany to be with their son as he lay in a coma. Because the DOD would not provide even so much as plane or taxi fare for the Neusche family, all 650 members of the 203 Engineer Battalion each contributed $10.00 to make the family's final visit possible.
    The AGWVA is demanding answers in a timely fashion and according to spokesperson Joyce Riley, "We will not tolerate another whitewashing of a tragedy against our veterans. It has happened too many times before with our failure to safeguard our troops, adequately diagnose and effectively treat the victims of Agent Orange spraying, Project Shad shipboard-experimentation, and Gulf War Illness I. This time someone has to be held accountable." Ms. Riley closed by saying, "Speaking out for our past and present sick veterans is a really good way for Americans to support our troops!"

    The interview with Mark Neusche and Marsha Paxson can be heard at: www.thepowerhour.com <http://www.thepowerhou.com/> click on the "GWII mystery illness interview."
  8. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Here we go again. Question is, how long will the US gov't deny THIS illness is real? How many people will go around sick and untreated cause it's all manufactured or "in their heads"?
  9. by   roxannekkb
    I think it would be kind of hard to deny it, being that the men are sick right now and its being reported. However, it is not that unusual for the soliders to be coming down with a respiratory illness, considering the environment. Lots of dust, sand, very dry air. They are not accostomed to it, there are different pathogens in Iraq, indigenous to the area, that they are being exposed to. Plus, their immune systems must be weakened due to stress, poor food, lack of sleep, and all that goes with being in a war. The numbers of sick soldiers also are not that large.

    It may not be anything sinister, just a side effect from being there.
  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    It could very well be nothing sinister. I think it needs to be taken seriously though. Let's hope a lesson has been learned.
    Most in this article are injured:
    POLITICS-U.S.:
    War Critics Zero In on Pentagon Office

    Analysis - By Jim Lobe

    On most days, the Pentagon's 'Early Bird', a daily compilation of news articles on defence-related issues mostly from the U.S. and British press, does not shy from reprinting hard-hitting stories and columns critical of the Defence Department's top leadership.

    WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (IPS) - But few could help notice last week that the 'Bird' omitted an opinion piece distributed by the Knight-Ridder news agency by a senior Pentagon Middle East specialist, Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked in the office of Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Douglas Feith until her retirement in April.

    ''What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline,'' Kwiatkowski wrote. ''If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Saddam (Hussein) occupation (in Iraq) has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defence'' (OSD).

    Kwiatkowski went on to charge that the operations she witnessed during her tenure in Feith's office, and particularly those of an ad hoc group known as the Office of Special Plans (OSP), constituted ''a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress''.

    Kwiatkowski's charges, which tend to confirm reports and impressions offered to the press by retired officers from other intelligence agencies and their still-active but anonymous former colleagues, are likely to make her a prime witness when Congress reconvenes in September for hearings on the manipulation of intelligence to justify war against Iraq.

    According to Kwiatkowski, the same operation that allegedly cooked the intelligence also was responsible for the administration's failure to anticipate the problems that now dog the U.S. occupation in Iraq, or, in her more colourful words, that have placed 150,000 U.S. troops in ''the world's nastiest rat's nest, without a nation-building plan, without significant international support and without an exit plan''.

    Kwiatkowski's comments echo the worst fears of some lawmakers, who have begun looking into the OSP's role in the administration's mistaken assumptions in Iraq. Some are even comparing it to the off-the-books operation run from the National Security Council (NSC) during Reagan administration that later resulted in the ''Iran-Contra'' scandal.

    ''That office was charged with collecting, vetting, disseminating intelligence completely outside the normal intelligence apparatus,'' Rep. David Obey, a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, said last month.

    ''In fact, it appears that the information collected by this office was in some instances not even shared with the established intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the National Security Council and the president without having been vetted with anyone other than (the secretary of defence)''.

    Actually, little is known about OSP, which was originally created by Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and his top deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to investigate possible links between Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist group.

    While only a dozen people officially worked in the office at its largest, scores of ''consultants'' were brought in on contract, many of them closely identified with the neo-conservative and pro-Likud views held by the Pentagon leadership.

    There have been published reports that a similar informal group co-ordinated closely with the OSP from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office, but these have not been confirmed.

    Headed by a gung-ho former Navy officer, William Luti, and a scholarly national-security analyst, Abram Shulsky, OSP was given complete access to reams of raw intelligence produced by the U.S. intelligence community and became the preferred stop, when in town, for defectors handled by the Iraqi National Congress (INC), led by Ahmed Chalabi.

    It also maintained close relations with the Defence Policy Board (DPB), which was then chaired by neo-conservative Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Feith's mentor in the Reagan administration.

    Perle and Feith, whose published views on Israeli policy echo the right-wing Likud party, co-authored a 1996 memo for then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that argued that Hussein's ouster in Iraq would enable Israel to transform the balance of power in the Middle East in its favour.

    The DPB included some of Perle's closest associates, including former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director James Woolsey and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who played prominent roles in pushing the public case that Iraq represented an imminent threat to the United States and that its was closely tied to al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

    In her article, Kwiatkowski wrote that OSP's work was marked by three major characteristics:

    First, career Pentagon analysts assigned to the Secretary's office were generally excluded from ''key areas of interest'' to Feith, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld, notably Israel, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. ''In terms of Israel and Iraq, all primary staff work was conducted by political appointees, in the case of Israel, a desk officer appointee from the Washington Institute for Near Policy'', a think tank closely tied to the main pro-Israel lobby in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

    Second, the same group of appointees tended to work with likeminded political appointees in other agencies, especially the State Department, the NSC, and Cheney's office, rather than with those agencies' career analysts or the CIA.

    ''I personally witnessed several cases of staff officers being told not to contact their counterparts at State or the National Security Council because that particular decision would be processed through a different channel,'' Kwiatkowski wrote.

    The CIA's exclusion from this network could help explain why Cheney and his National Security Advisor, I. Lewis Libby, a long-time associate of Wolfowitz, frequently visited the agency, in what analysts widely regarded as pressure to conform to OSP assessments.

    This exclusion of professional and independent opinions, both within the Pentagon and across government agencies -- according to Kwiatkowski -- resulted in ''Groupthink'', a technical term defined as ''reasoning or decision-making by a group, often characterised by uncritical acceptance of conformity to prevailing points of view''.

    In this case, the prevailing points of view were presumably shaped by neo-conservatives like Feith, Wolfowitz and Perle, and the ''intelligence'' provided by the INC.

    Kwiatkowski's broadside coincides with the appearance in neo-conservative media outlets, notably the 'Wall Street Journal', of defences of Feith, who is widely seen here as the Pentagon's most likely fall guy if it is forced to shoulder blame for bad intelligence and planning. The government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair has pressed Bush to fire Feith for several months, according to diplomatic sources.

    In a lengthy defence published Tuesday, the associate editor of the Journal's editorial page described Feith's policy workshop as "the world's most effective think tank''.
  11. by   SmilingBluEyes
    It was not taken seriously in 1991-1992. Believe me ....

    and THOUSANDS came home ILL and it was KNOWN why. Just covered up. Whether enviromental OR "otherwise sinister" it needs to be taken seriously and TREATED APPROPRIATELY by our gov't.

    1000s and 1000s of vets---- (not just from Desert Storm, anyone remember Agent Orange?)---- CANNOT BE WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  12. by   roxannekkb
    I didn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously, just that it may be a "natural" illness, caused by environmental circumstances, stress, and pathogens native to the area. I'm glad that it is getting exposure.
  13. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a392dbbda0516.htm
    http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3980f8981a7b.htm
    http://www.eoslifework.co.uk/pdfs/DU012v12.pdf
    http://rain-tree.com/mycoresearch.htm
    http://counterpunch.org/
    http://www.rimbaud.freeserve.co.uk/dhap99f.html
    http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/2003conv.htm
    http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/news/4607616.htm
    http://www.gulfwarvets.com/ijom.htm
    Joyce Riley vonKleist, R.N., B.S.N.
    Captain, USAF inactive Reserve
    To the Forgotten Warriors:
    Was the character of my valor less intense than those at Lexington?
    Was the pain of my wounds any less severe than those at Normandy?
    And was my loneliness any less sorrowful than those at Inchon?
    Then why am I forgotten amongst those remembered as "heroes?"
    -George L. Skypeck , Captain U.S. Army
    INTRODUCTION
    Journal articles are usually written with the expressed purpose of providing answers to questions posed that pertain to a given topic. However, due to the nature of the information and documentation that appears here, it is likely that more questions will be raised than answered. As one begins to delve deeper into the subject of Gulf War Illness, it becomes increasingly evident there is much more than meets the eye.

    Historically, when faced with a dilemma that threatens the well being of a population, the public and private sectors combine resources to determine a solution to the problem. Such is not the case with respect to the issue of the Gulf War Illness. For whatever reasons, the United States government has refused to acknowledge the existence of the diseases and withheld meaningful treatments or protocols from the service members. To compound this growing problem, attempts to find any meaningful answers to the source of these maladies have been met with arrogant condescension, denial and in some cases reprisal.

    For six years Gulf War veterans have given testimony and first hand accounts of what actually transpired on the battlefield with respect to chemical, biological warfare and the much debated vaccinations. They have testified in Washington and at senate hearings in an attempt to have their voices heard as it relates to their symptoms, disease processes and chronic illnesses. Their voices have fallen on deaf ears in Washington. It is understood that much of the documentation presented will most likely be contrary to the steady diet of "news" presented by the Pentagon and mainstream media, some may find the information contained herein to be unpalatable if not difficult to digest.

    The research utilized for this report has come not only from Senate Reports, Congressional Hearings, and government documents, but also from personal experience as well as thousands of letters and interviews from the veterans themselves who, after serving their country, suffer from a series of maladies that the United States military says "doesn't exist."
    PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
    Having served as a USAFR flight nurse in the late 1970's, the advent of Operation Desert Storm/Shield served to inspire me to return. I was placed on world-wide status receiving all the inoculations required for a Flight Nurse position. The cease-fire occurred and I remained stateside flying missions from Alaska to Cuba. My civilian position at that time was a heart, liver, kidney transplant nurse at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Houston, Texas. My health status prior to 1991 was excellent. Subsequent to serving in support of Operation Desert Storm from January to July, 1991, I became ill to the point of hospitalization in December 1991 with a possible diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. This was later changed to "unknown central nervous system disorder." The primary objective findings were an abnormal spinal tap and six spots of demyelination of the brain and spinal cord. The subjective findings were parasthesias, numbness and muscle pain.

    The treatment consisted of oral tapered steroids and intravenous ACTH. I was re-hospitalized in 1993 with mycoplasma pneumonia and in 1995, tested positive for Mycoplasma incognitus with forensic Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center by Dr. Garth Nicolson. Treatment with Doxycycline 100mg. BID and Acyclovir for three courses was completed. Though able to function, I was still hampered with chronic fatigue, night sweats, debilitating endometriosis, joint and muscle pain. To treat the remaining problems, I underwent Ozone therapy. This much debated and often criticized treatment by the mainstream traditional medical community brought me relief and returned me almost to my original state of health with on remaining symptoms of significantly impaired eyesight and joint pain. Dr. Gerald V. Sunnen, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of New York University reports that as early as World War I, ozone's bactericidal properties were used to treat infected wounds, mustard gas burns and fistulas.1 According to Dr. Sunnen, ozone has a long history for use in water purification.

    Ozone's properties are being investigated for applications in various medical fields.
    The ability of ozone to destroy toxic or noxious industrial impurities (phenols, cyanides, tetraethyllead among others) and to inactivate bacterial contaminants in sewage has made it an attractive alternative to chlorination. Wiesbaden, Germany became the first city to use ozonation for purification of its drinking water (1901), followed by Zurich, Florence, Brussels, Marseille, Singapore and Moscow (the largest installation in the world), among others.2

    Having heard from many physicians who utilize ozone, plus my personal experience, it appears that ozone therapy should be further investigated by clinicians as a potential treatment for Gulf War veterans.
    GULF WAR SYNDROME AND
    THE GOVERNMENT POSITION
    The official Pentagon position still remains that "There is no Gulf War Illness". For six years the U.S. military and medical establishments have been debating the question "Is there a Gulf War Illness?" Meanwhile, as of July,1997, 8,200 of our military have died (deaths in service) according to the Veteran's Administration statistics.3 Countless thousands of other GW veterans and their family members and contacts have now also been afflicted with the disease. No longer a military problem, this disease appears to have spread into the general population...
    ( If) you care to know the truth consider reading the entire articles from the above links) ( I only pasted a part of the one written by a NURSE VETERAN.

    SOLDIER
    I was that which others did not want to be.
    I went where others feared to go, and did what others, failed to do.
    I asked nothing from those who gave nothing, and reluctantly accepted the thought
    eternal loneliness...should I fail.
    I have seen the face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear; and enjoyed the sweet taste
    of a moment's love.
    I have cried, pained, and hoped...most of all, I have lived times others would say
    were best forgotten.
    At lease someday, I will be able to say that I was proud of what I was...a soldier.
    George L. Skypeck
  14. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.ngwrc.org/article.asp?id=218
    http://www.ngwrc.org/article.asp?id=217
    http://www.ngwrc.org/article.asp?id=216
    http://www.ngwrc.org/article.asp?id=219
    Army weighs vaccine link in troops' death
    That study last year found the vaccine was the "possible or probable" cause of pneumonia in some.
    Mark Benjamin UPI Investigations Editor
    <>
    WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The Army will consider whether the anthrax or other vaccine could be causing a cluster of pneumonia cases among soldiers in Iraq and southwestern Asia, an official said Wednesday.
    Col. Robert DeFraites of the Army Surgeon General's office told United Press International that the Pentagon would look into whether vaccines, among other factors, might have triggered the pneumonia that has killed two soldiers and sickened 100.
    "Among all of the possible causes or contributing factors, we are looking at the immunizations that the soldiers received as well," DeFraites told UPI Wednesday. "It is premature to say that there is any relationship at all."
    The Pentagon announced Tuesday it is investigating the cases in search of a common factor, but did not mention vaccines as a possibility.
    A co-author of a government-sponsored study of possible side effects from the anthrax vaccine told UPI Tuesday evening that the Army should look at whether that vaccine is behind the cluster of pneumonia cases. That study last year found the vaccine was the "possible or probable" cause of pneumonia in two soldiers.
    "As physicians, I would think they would be looking at all possible causes. I would think vaccines would be part of that," said Dr. John L. Sever of George Washington University Medical School, who was one of six authors of the study.
    Under a 1998 law, the military is supposed to take sample of soldiers' blood before and after deploying. One Gulf War illness expert said Wednesday that the Pentagon should use the samples to see if the anthrax vaccine is to blame.
    "We need them to investigate the role of vaccines as aggressively as everything else in order to rule it in or out," said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center.
    "The question is, did these soldiers get their blood screened?" said Robinson. "It is my opinion that they missed a large portion of the soldiers who deployed for this war."
    Last year's anthrax vaccine study, printed in the May 2002 issue of Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, found that the vaccine was the "possible or probable" cause of pneumonia among two soldiers, according to George Washington's Sever. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services convened the group, called the Anthrax Vaccine Expert Committee, which studied 602 reports of possible reactions to the vaccine among nearly 400,000 troops who received it, Sever said.
    In addition to identifying pneumonia and flu-like symptoms among troops who received the vaccine, the group also looked at four other cases of potentially serious reactions, including severe back pain and two soldiers who had sudden difficulty breathing in a possible allergic reaction to the vaccine.
    Sever described the two cases of pneumonia as "wheezing and difficulty breathing going into a pneumonia-like picture."
    To conduct the study, the Anthrax Vaccine Expert Committee examined reports from the U.S. military to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; they are anecdotal reports and do not necessarily show a cause-and-effect relationship.
    DeFraites said the two deaths under investigation by the Army Surgeon General occurred in June and July and that both soldiers had been in Iraq. He said the investigation began as soon as the first death occurred.
    In a case apparently not included in that total, 22-year-old Army specialist Rachael Lacy of Lynwood, Ill., died at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., on April 4 of what one doctor diagnosed as pneumonia, after receiving anthrax and smallpox vaccinations but without ever having been deployed.
    Dr. Eric Pfeifer, the Minnesota coroner who performed the autopsy, told the Army Times that the smallpox and anthrax vaccines "may have" contributed to her death. "It's just very suspicious in my mind...that she's healthy, gets the vaccinations and then dies a couple weeks later." He listed "post-vaccine" problems on the death certificate.
    Moses Lacy, Rachael Lacy's father, told the Army Times that she called in March and said she had chest pains and breathing problems and had been diagnosed with pneumonia.
    One service member who was deployed to Kuwait and received the four-shot anthrax series told UPI Tuesday he developed bronchitis and a severe cough after receiving his shots, and that about a fifth of the troops he was deployed with had similar symptoms and were prescribed medicine to treat them. His symptoms continued after he returned to the U.S., and he sought further treatment at a base clinic. He got better, but believes he nearly came down with pneumonia.
    The Pentagon dispatched two teams to look into the pneumonia: one to Iraq and another to a U.S. military base in Landstuhl, Germany, where some sick soldiers are treated.
    Copyright 2001-2003 United Press International

close