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January 15, 1997

Illness in Gulf War Veterans: Causes and Consequences

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Community Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. Dr Landrigan is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses. He is a Lieutenant Commander, Medical Corps, US Naval Reserve.

JAMA. 1997;277(3):259-261. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540270085031

In 1990 and 1991, 697 000 men and women of the US armed forces served in the Persian Gulf. During their service these veterans were exposed to a wide array of known and potential hazards to health. These risk factors included extremes of heat and cold, blowing dust, smoke from oil well fires, petroleum fuels and their combustion products, pyridostigmine bromide (administered as pretreatment for potential poison gas exposure), anthrax and botulinum toxoid vaccines, depleted uranium (used in certain artillery shells), infectious diseases, chemical warfare agents, pesticides, and pervasive psychological and physiological stress.1

See also pp 215, 223, 231, and 238.

Since returning home, many Persian Gulf War veterans have developed illness. Some have specific diseases that clearly resulted from their military service.2 For example, 32 veterans have been diagnosed with leishmaniasis, and 7 have developed malaria. Several dozen retain fragments of depleted uranium embedded in their bodies,