Gulf War syndrome, again...

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Posted by Sadie from D007020.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at 0:24AM :

Soldiers may sue over 'Iraq War Syndrome'
Tuesday, 27 May, 2003
BBC News Online

Four soldiers are threatening to sue the Ministry of Defence, claiming they are suffering symptoms akin to Gulf War Syndrome following the war in Iraq.

The soldiers are blaming their ailments - including depression, eczema and breathing problems - on vaccinations they had before heading to the region.

Solicitor Mark McGhee, who is representing the unidentified four, said: "I personally have dealt with well in excess of 400 Gulf War One veterans.

"The symptoms which these individuals are experiencing are identical to those of the individuals I represent in relation to the first Gulf War conflict."

'Too early'

Expert Professor Simon Wessely of King's College in London, conceded it was possible that the multiple vaccinations, and the speed with which they were administered, could have led to problems.

But he believed it was far too early to assess whether there could be a "Gulf War Syndrome Mark 2" caused by the Iraq war.

"We know that lessons have been learned. The particular vaccine schedule has been changed, and I'm led to believe the way in which they are given has been altered," he said.

"But it would be a naive person who thinks policy will always be implemented perfectly and there won't have been mistakes and variations."

Court battle

The Ministry of Defence has accepted that some returning troops may suffer long-term health problems as a result of the war in Iraq, and has begun a screening programme to identify any symptoms early.

Many veterans of the Gulf War claim to suffer a range of symptoms which amounts to a 'syndrome'
They have identified several possible causes, with the most likely being injections against chemical weapons
The Ministry of Defence disputes there is any one syndrome, though it accepts some troops have suffered ill-health as a result of the war
The High Court is due to rule in weeks on whether Gulf War Syndrome can be recognised in law
But the government has consistently disputed that the illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans amount to a "syndrome".
Last week a government-funded review said there was "little evidence" to support claims that multiple vaccinations had caused illness.

But campaigners recently claimed a victory, after a war pensions appeal tribunal ruled that a former soldier's osteoporosis could be linked to injections he had before the conflict.

This could be supported by a High Court ruling, expected later this month, on whether Gulf War Syndrome should be recognised officially in law.

The MoD wants the court to overturn a decision by another pensions tribunal, which recognised former Parachute Regiment medic Shaun Rusling as suffering from the condition.

-- Sadie
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