Gulf War Syndrome May Be Contagious

Article excerpt

Gulf War Syndrome, the mysterious collection of illnesses that has struck thousands of veterans of the 1991 war to oust Iraq from Kuwait, now appears to be contagious, according to a recent survey and accounts of its victims.

The continued monitoring of 1,200 veterans, conducted by Sen. Donald Riegle, D-Mich., for a Senate committee, has found that the disease has spread from afflicted veterans to 78 percent of their wives, 25 percent of offspring born before the war and 65 percent born since.

"Is it transmissible? Let's see, everyone I know is sick and they're making everyone they know sick. It's not rocket science. We're just grunts," said Troy Albuck, an Illinois veteran whose family is now ill.

A spokesman for Riegle said the survey shows that the syndrome "is transmissible and that it rules out some of the possible causes. It's not post-traumatic stress. It's got to be some kind of viral or bacterial infection. Our focus is on chemical or biological agents."

But Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Doug Hart said "at this time we have not been able to find any scientific evidence linking a spouse's illness and a veteran's service in the Gulf."

The Pentagon has heard about relatives' symptoms for "quite some time," Hart said. On a toll-free number for sick Gulf veterans the Pentagon asks respondents if relatives have been affected. …