January 22, 1996

Desert Storm Syndrome and Immunization

Author Affiliations

Göttingen, Germany

Milton Keynes, England

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(2):217. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440020127023

The latest report1 about the search for causes of the "Desert Storm syndrome" must be very disappointing, not only for the 20 000 victims, but also for medical scientists. Four years after the end of the Gulf War, information still derives from the arbitrary collection of very restricted data from small cohorts of veterans. Is this a question of medical concepts? Are the symptoms of the Desert Storm syndrome or "Gulf War disease" indeed so unique and unpredictable1,2 that it is not possible to develop reasonable concepts for investigation?

Together with the predominant chronic fatigue syndrome, joint pain, and rash, there have been reports of increased polyspecific antibody concentrations against viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and arbovirus, as well as symptoms that resemble those of immunologic disorders.

What can be a consistent explanation of these disseminated symptoms of obviously chronic disease other than changes in immune responses?

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