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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] US probes cases of pneumonia in Iraq Jordan Times 3rd August 2003 WASHINGTON (AFP) ‹ The US army has dispatched investigative medical teams to Iraq and Germany to look into an unusually large number of cases of pneumonia that have affected about 100 US troops deployed in and around Iraq and left two of them dead, defence officials said. "If the teams determine that the cases are unusual in any way, they will make preventive or corrective recommendations," the office of the army surgeon general said in a statement Friday, adding that at the moment, nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. But in describing the situation, the military used the word "concern," and its own statistics bear that out. Normally, the US army averages nine incidents of pneumonia per 10,000 soldiers a year ‹ cases that are serious enough to require hospitalisation. However, since March 1, when thousands of US troops were massed around Iraq ready for a strike, the disease has already hit approximately 100 servicemen. Fifteen soldiers were so ill they required ventilator support. Three fell gravely ill with pneumonia in March, three more in April, two in May, three again in June and four in July, according to the army. Specific causes of the two deaths are still being determined. "Death from pneumonia in a young, otherwise healthy population is rare, but it does occur," the surgeon general's office said, pointing out that in the five years beginning in 1998, 17 US soldiers died from the disease or from complications caused by it. But the fact that all the cases have occurred just in the past five months and in the same, albeit vast, geographical area is puzzling specialists. So far, evidence does not support the theory of a local epidemic. According to the defence officials, the pneumonia has afflicted soldiers deployed in various parts of Iraq and belonging to different units. That led the surgeon general to conclude that "no infectious agent common to all of the cases" can be identified at this point. "Additionally, there is no evidence that any of the pneumonia cases being investigated have been caused by exposure to chemical or biological weapons, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or environmental toxins," the office added. In an effort to find a clue, one of the epidemiological teams flew to Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany, where most of the diseased soldiers were treated after their evacuation from the battle zone. The second team will conduct its probe in Iraq, where it will question doctors in field hospitals as well as sample soil, water and air to examine whether these factors might have played a part. The defence officials cautioned that sometimes correlations among cases do not exist, and definitive conclusions about their origin might not be possible. Sunday, August 3, 2003 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk