Almost 700 000 American service personnel were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1990-1991 as a part of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Fortunately, combat casualties were far less than that reported for previous conflicts.1 However, following their return from Southwest Asia, thousands of Gulf War veterans have sought medical care for symptoms they felt might be related to their wartime service. The most frequent complaints among veterans in the Veterans Affairs Persian Gulf War Registry include the following: fatigue, rash, muscle and/or joint pain, neuropsychiatric complaints, shortness of breath, sleep disturbances, and gastrointestinal problems. Most of the veterans have had readily diagnosable and treatable illnesses that would be expected in a large group of adult patients. Yet many complain of symptoms that remain unexplained despite extensive evaluations.2 To date no evidence exists to support the concept of a single disease or agent causing a specific Gulf War syndrome.
Krivda SJ, Roy MJ, Chung RCY, James WD. Cutaneous Findings in Gulf War Veterans. Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(7):846-847. doi:10.1001/archderm.1996.03890310138034