British Doctors Focus On
Multiplicity Of GWI Illnesses
A medical assessment of 1,000 veterans of the 1991 war by Britain's Ministry of Defence concluded that the ailments of the men are real but they are not a unique illness.
"We found no evidence of a single illness, psychological or physical, to explain the pattern of symptoms that we have seen," Dr Bill Coker and his colleagues at the Ministry of Defense said in a report published in the British Medical Journal.
About 50,000 British soldiers served in the war that ousted Iraqi troops from Kuwait. The veterans' complaints ranged from sleep disturbances and skin problems to stomach aches and respiratory complaints.
The most common problems were headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and cognitive problems.
Veterans' groups blame the mysterious illness on exposure to organophosphate pesticides or the cocktail of drug service personnel were given to protect them from possible chemical and biological warfare.
Nearly 60 percent of the veterans who were assessed in the study had more than one diagnosed illness, and 39 percent had at least one ailment that doctors could not pinpoint.
"Although post-traumatic stress disorder in these veterans could often be ascribed to Gulf War service, it was usually impossible to determine the link between other reported conditions and Gulf War service," the doctors added.
The latest research is consistent with a study published earlier this month which concluded the Gulf War Syndrome does not appear to exist.
"Although a growing consensus is emerging from the clinical and epidemiologcal evidence that there is no Gulf War syndrome, a rare medical condition in a small subgroup of Gulf War veterans cannot be excluded conclusively," Frances Murphy of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington said in a commentary in the journal.
British Armed Forces Minister Doug Henderson welcomed the new research saying it will be useful to veterans and the medical and scientific communities.
"The MOD will continue its policy of vigorously addressing the health concerns of Gulf veterans," he said in a statement.