Skip to main content

Both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, a relatively high incidence rare diseases has occurred in our troops. It reminds me of H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" where the invading martians are superior militarily, but succumb to disease.

When is enough enough?

More below, quoted from reuters, via PROMED.

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004
From: George Robertson <>
Source: Reuters UK

Rare pneumonia found among USA soldiers in Iraq
A rare and sometimes deadly pneumonia has hit 18 USA soldiers deployed
Iraq, and Army medical investigators are at a loss to explain the
according to a study published on Tue, 21 Dec 2004.

In a report appearing in the Journal of the American Medical
researchers from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center said 2 of the
had died from the rare illness, called acute eosinophilic pneumonia, or

No common source was found for the outbreak that occurred between Mar
and Mar 2004 among the soldiers in Iraq. The study covered only that
period and there was no indication whether cases have continued to show
since then.

The 18 victims studied ranged in age from 19 to 47 and all used
with 75 percent recently taking up the habit. All but one reported
"significant exposure to fine airborne sand or dust" while in Iraq.

While only 18 cases have been reported among 183 000 troops deployed in
Iraq during the time period involved, the authors said the cases are
significant because the disease is very rare in the general population.

The illness was not immediately diagnosed in several victims, who
fever and respiratory failure. Several had to be put on mechanical
ventilators to help them breathe and were administered corticosteroids.
Months later, a few reported continued breathing problems or wheezing.

"Inquiries to the Iraqi health officials did not suggest that AEP was
occurring in the local population or that there has been an unusual
increase in the incidence of pneumonia of any kind during the study
period," the report said.

The report's author, Dr. Andrew Shorr, warned the illness can strike
suddenly and mimic more common ailments such as acute respiratory
syndrome or community pneumonia.

The report follows another battle zone study in November 2004 that
found an
unexpectedly high number of USA soldiers injured in the Middle East and
Afghanistan had tested positive for a rare, hard-to-treat blood

Army doctors at that time said 102 soldiers were found to be infected
the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii. The infections occurred among
soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Landstuhl
Regional Medical Center in Germany and 3 other sites between Jan 2002
Aug 2004.

85 of the bloodstream infections occurred among soldiers serving in the
Middle East and Afghanistan, the report said. Normally military
see only one such case every year, it added.
George A. Robertson, PhD
Vice President Science & Technology
Bethesda, MD, USA

Originally posted to dnamj on Tue Dec 21, 2004 at 05:52 PM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Keep your head down, Al (none)
    we need you on Air America
  •  More here (none)
    Here's a basic rundown of eosinophilic pneumonia.

    Note in particular that in it's acute primary form it's both idiopathic (no known/obvious cause) and rare. It's not an infectious pneumonia.

    Also as noted, "The term eosinophilic pneumonia (EP) refers to a heterogenous group of lung diseases characterized by pulmonary eosinophilia and infiltrates, with or without increased peripheral eosinophils in the blood. Primary, or idiopathic, EP includes acute eosinophilic pneumonia (AEP) and chronic eosinophilic pneumonia (CEP). EP can lead to irreversible damage to the lungs."

    The 18 cases in 183,000 soldiers (1 per 10,000) significantly exceeds the documented frequency of "probably less then 0.1 case per 100,000 (1 per 1,000,000) population per year"

    The email implicates environmental exposure (fine sand/dust), and mentions cigarette smoking. The linked article notes "Cigarette smoking has been reported to trigger AEP with respiratory failure."

    You can also read more about acinetobacter. It's an infectious organism most frequently found in hospitalized patients who have multiple portals of entry (endotracheal tubes, central venous and/or urinary catheters).

    Another reason to stay away from hospitals (that's where the germs are), but that's not often a choice available to those who've been wounded.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site