U.S. softens on Gulf War syndrome

Nov. 4, 2004 at 8:56 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- A leaked report from the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs indicates the government is backing away from its denial of Gulf War syndrome.

For more than a decade, the British, U.S., Australian and Canadian governments have disputed soldiers were exposed to chemical agents such as sarin that created the syndrome, whose symptoms include chronic diarrhea, sweating, insomnia, muscle and stomach pain, fatigue, loss of memory and arthritis.

The New Scientist quoted leaks of a report due to be released next week by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses that said, "A substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multi-system conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness."

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

The report said experiments on animals have shown 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.

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