Researchers Think They’ve Found the Cause of Gulf War Illness

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, there was a flourish of news articles about the new findings on the cause of the Gulf War Illness. Symptoms of the illness have been a mystery to researchers for over 30 years now. But they have finally connected to how so many service members have the same symptoms.

Where did the symptoms come from

During the Gulf War, troops bombed an Iraqi facility housing chemical agents. The bombing of this facility caused the release of a chemical warfare agent known as sarin. “Sarin is a nerve agent that is one of the most toxic known chemical warfare agents. It is generally odorless and tasteless. Exposure to sarin can cause death in minutes. A fraction of an ounce (1 to 10 mL) of sarin on the skin can be fatal.” says the CDC. Troops stationed in the area of this bombing could have been exposed, even within 25 miles. In addition, other soldiers on patrol around Iraqi facilities could have also ingested the agent.

“Nerve agents can irreversibly inhibit the enzyme AChE in central and peripheral nervous system synapses,” says the National Library of Medicine. Gulf War Illness symptoms compared to long term effects of a chemical warfare agent:

Gulf War illness comparison

The new findings

One of the new findings that help prove the cause of Gulf War Illness is the difference in genotypes in the troops that served. Our bodies are all built differently, meaning all exposed troops were affected, but only some showed symptoms.

VA offers service connection for Veterans who show signs of chronic fatigue and unexplained symptoms after serving in the Gulf War.

This new finding is another reason why it is so essential for Veterans to know that they could be dealing with the effects of serving in the Gulf War and should be receiving benefits from VA. interviewed veterans like our very own Paul Sulivan, director of Veteran Outreach. Paul deployed to Iraq as an Army cavalry scout with the 1st Armored Division in 1991. Paul mentioned in his interview that “the results provide evidence that affected veterans need to access care from the VA.”

Read more on Paul Sullivan’s interview.


National Library of Medicine – Sarin

National Library of Medicine – Long term effects of nerve gas exposure


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