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November 18, 1992

Gulf War Symptoms Remain Puzzling

JAMA. 1992;268(19):2619. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490190011002

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WITH OIL FIRES exonerated and a special registry and referral centers set up, the mystery continues over unexplained signs and symptoms (JAMA. 1992;267:2579) reported by some 300 Persian Gulf war veterans.

Hair loss, bleeding gums, myalgias, arthralgias, rashes, liver problems, and especially debilitating fatigue have both the veterans who say they are afflicted and military health officials stressing the importance of preventing another Agent Orange—like ordeal. In the latter situation, Vietnam veterans' complaints of health problems and birth defects were registered so long after exposure to the dioxin-based defoliant that scientific proof or disproof of cause and effect was virtually impossible.

In the post—Persian Gulf situation, a panel of experts in toxicology, occupational medicine, and epidemiology from the armed forces, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, Atlanta, Ga), and the private petroleum industry has concluded that "there is no objective evidence that a single soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine