Desert Storm vets' illnesses probed

September 16, 1992|By Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON — &TC WASHINGTON -- As Congress begins hearings today on th mysterious illnesses being reported by some veterans of Operation Desert Storm, a group of environmental physicians says it can supply some answers.

A committee headed by Dr. Al Johnson of Dallas is developing diagnostic guidelines to help physicians identify whether Desert Storm vets are suffering from "multiple chemical sensitivity," a type of allergic reaction.

The nine-member panel, formed two weeks ago by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, is focusing on three environmental exposures in the Persian Gulf region: oil well fires, leaded gasoline and pesticides.

Military medical officials have said they have found no evidence of any widespread environmental disease among Desert Storm vets, although they have not ruled out any cause for the reported illnesses.

A group of Army physicians is expected to report those findings to a subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee today.

The panel will hear from officials of several federal government agencies involved in studying the possible adverse effects on the health of the 570,000 troops who served in the Persian Gulf War.

The hearing will also include testimony on the need for Congress to authorize the Veterans Affairs Department to create a medical registry of Desert Storm vets to track any medical problems.

The subcommittee is not scheduled to hear from any veterans or the dozen environmental physicians who have reported seeing Desert Storm veterans with illnesses that other government doctors have not been able to diagnose.

At least two physicians have concluded that Desert Storm vets they examined were suffering from an adverse reaction to hydrocarbons or petroleum products.

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