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Posts Tagged ‘Leishmaniasis’

A Military Cutback We Can’t Afford: Fighting Tropical Diseases

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 21, 2012

Leishmaniasis at The Iraq Infections

“In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans”

Barbara Herwaldt, CDC, on Leishmaniasis

Contractors will be even less likely to be diagnosed and/or treated timely or effectively despite the possibility you can transmit this to your family

Peter Hotez & James Kazura at The Atlantic

In recent months, many politicians and presidential hopefuls have called for budget reductions, and many have specifically targeted military spending for cutbacks. Unfortunately, even programs proven to be cost effective are vulnerable to cuts. Medical research for our troops is no exception to this rule — programs such as the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) often find themselves low on the priority list despite their crucial role in saving the lives of our troops on the battlefield and here at home.

One important area of research is tropical medicine. During World War II and the Vietnam War, more than one million service members acquired tropical infections such as malaria, dengue fever, hookworm, and typhus, and many of these diseases continued to plague our veterans after they returned home. Today, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan still face formidable tropical disease threats, especially from a disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies known as leishmaniasis, which can cause a disfiguring ulcer in one form, and a serious systemic condition that clinically resembles leukemia in another. In the coming years leishmaniasis may become the most important condition you have never heard of among veterans.

WRAIR’s leishmaniasis diagnostic laboratory is the only one of its kind in the world, so each time funding is slashed our military loses considerable expertise and capabilities in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this devastating disease. For example, in the years prior to the Gulf War, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was officially decommissioned and all research was halted. Only after cases of leishmaniasis among U.S. forces exposed to sand-fly bites in the Iraqi desert were the remaining leishmaniasis experts at WRAIR quickly assembled and tasked with making up for lost time. In 2002, the WRAIR leishmaniasis program was again dissolved only to be urgently activated once more with the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The interruptions to the WRAIR leishmaniasis program are part of much larger budget cuts across all of WRAIR’s tropical infectious disease research programs. There is no end to the irony of such cutbacks given that they coincide with the activation in 2008 of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), charged with fighting the war on terror across the African continent. Today, sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of cases of tropical diseases anywhere in the world. Many of these tropical infections, such as river blindness and African sleeping sickness, have been shown to destabilize communities and may actually promote conflict in the region.

Please see the original and read more here

Posted in ACE, Afghanistan, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Injured Contractors, Iraq, Leishmaniasis, LHWCA Longshore Harbor Workers Compesnation Act, Toxic Exposures, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

American Casualties 500,000 When Injuries and Illnesses are Included

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 29, 2010

These numbers undoubtedly include some civilian contractor casualties who are the responsibity of AIG, CNA, ACE and other DBA Insurance Companies but refuse diagnoses and treatment of TBI, PTSD, and diseases endemic to Iraq and Afghanistan.

LA Times: U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan War Casualties Top 500,000

June 24, 2010, Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Times) – Here’s an eye-popping number: A blogger and writer claims American military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceed 500,000.

That’s if you count certain injuries and diseases including mental illness that he alleges the Department of Defense doesn’t include in its official combat-related casualty toll in an effort to soften U.S. military losses in the wars and win funding for them from the Congress.

VCS Note: Internal VA reports obtained by VCS confirm LA Times article:

Consequences of Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as of June 24, 2010
*  537,099: U.S. Veteran Patients Treated at VA
*  489,369: U.S. Veteran Disability Claims Filed Against VA

For example, cases of traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as a result of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded from the official list of casualties.

“Under this scheme, chronic injuries and many acute internal injuries such as hearing impairment, back injuries, mild traumatic brain injuries, mental health problems and a host of diseases suffered by personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are usually not counted as being war-related regardless of how debilitating they are,” writes Matthew Nasuti in an article published on the Afghan news site and media organization Kabul Press. “They are either generally lumped into the category of ‘non-hostile wounded’ or simply not counted at all.”

Masuti is a former Air Force captain and Los Angeles deputy city attorney who worked for the State Department in Iraq for a spell. He’s now a critic of the U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The writer claims that 95% of injured soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen were not reported as casualties due to what he refers to as the Pentagon’s “fudging the numbers” in a bid to win funding from American lawmakers to finance the wars.

“Wounded in action is narrowly defined to essentially be an injury directly caused by an adversary,” he writes. “So called ‘friendly fire’ injuries and deaths would apparently not be counted. The emphasis is on acute injuries caused by enemy munitions which pierce or penetrate.”

He cites sources such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the New England Journal of Medicine and the Navy to conclude that the more than 170,000 U.S. soldiers suffer from hearing damage, the 130,000 or more cases of milder brain injuries, and the 200,000 troops suffering from mental problems are left out of the casualty count.

If they were to be included in the Pentagon’s official numbers of 5,500 troop deaths and 38,000 injuries, the total American military casualty toll in Iraq and Afghanistan would amount to well over 500,000.

And it doesn’t end there. The 500,000 tally would increase significantly if one also added to the count what Nasuti claims are around 30,000 cases of serious disease and hundreds of accident injuries and suicides, among many other types of disease and injury-related military casualties.

Skeptics would maybe argue that a soldier suffering from a gastrointestinal disease from having eaten bad meals in Iraq and Afghanistan and minor roadway accident injuries do not belong in the tally along with troops who have been killed in ambushes with insurgents.

But Natusi writes that it’s important not to leave these types of injuries out in order to show the real image of the war and its effects on U.S. troops.

Not only do the aforementioned injuries deserve to be formally recognized as casualties as a sign of respect for the soldiers serving in the battlefield, but leaving them out of the count distorts the overall toll, the writer concludes.

“These casualties are real and are a direct result of fighting two wars,” he writes. “The soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who have suffered these combat injuries deserve to be recognized and the American people deserve a proper accounting of the mounting costs of their two seemingly endless wars. That accounting begins with an honest casualty count.”

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Labor, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

We Welcome the Medical Muckraker Blog

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 11, 2010

The Medical Muckracker is a new blog by Award Winning Medical and Science Writer Bryant Furlow.

Bryant has been researching and reporting on Medical Issues that effect military as well as contractors for many years.  At our request he recently researched and reported on the medical effects of the warzone Burn Pits  which was published in the Lancet Oncology. He has extensively researched  Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Leishmaniasis, Acinetobacter baumannii, Toxic Exposures, and other issues effecting the military, contractors, and their families.

He started this new blog to expose wrongs and highlight under-reported public health stories that affect peoples’ lives but have been neglected by the mainstream media.

Bryants Evidence Based Medical Reporting will be be invaluable to all War Zone Contractors as you navigate your own medical diagnoses’ and confirm causation.

You will find Bryant’s work posted here often.  Check out Bryants Intro Page

Posted in Acinetobacter, Burn Pits, Cancer, Civilian Contractors, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Leishmaniasis, PTSD and TBI, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Leishmaniasis: A Family Affair

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 27, 2010

A Deadly Danger To Every Troop Serving In Or Near Iraq;
It Can Kill You, It Can Kill Your Wife, It Can Kill Your Kids:
And The V.A. Tries To Cover It Up

August 07, 2006 Paul Egan, The Detroit News [Excerpts]

Nobody can say U.S. Army veteran Arvid Brown’s Gulf War illness is all in his head.

Brown’s late wife, Janyce, caught leishmaniasis — a sometimes deadly parasitic disease borne by sand flies that can attack the body’s cells and internal organs — a malady he brought home from Operation Desert Storm. So did the Swartz Creek couple’s two young children.

Now, the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled the federal government and the Department of Veterans Affairs can be sued for alleged failure to diagnose Brown’s illness and for any injuries he and his family suffered.

Veterans’ groups are hailing the decision as a victory for families of tens of thousands of veterans of not only the first Gulf War, in which Brown served, but subsequent Mideast conflicts.

“This is a huge case,” said Joyce Riley, spokeswoman for the American Gulf War Veterans Association in Versailles, Mo. “This gives a lot of veterans a lot of hope.”

When Brown, now 48, returned from the Gulf War in 1991, he couldn’t understand why his once-vigorous health was deteriorating. His head, muscles and bones ached, his strength was sapped; he was constantly exhausted but could not sleep.

Doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs could not pinpoint an ailment.

They denied him disability benefits in 1995, and Brown said they prescribed painkillers and mood-altering drugs that made things worse.

It was Brown’s wife, Janyce, who had the research skills and persistence eventually to find a doctor who in 1998 diagnosed Brown with leishmaniasis.

By then, Janyce, too, had contracted the disease and both the couple’s children had been born with it and other ailments, according to medical reports filed in the case from Dr. Gregory Forstall, then-director of infectious diseases at McLaren Regional Medical Center in Flint, now in private practice.

The government has not disputed the medical reports.

Janyce Brown developed a series of ailments and last year died at age 43 of a rare and inoperable form of liver cancer. Though no definite link was established between her leishmaniasis and other diseases, Arvid Brown said his wife was healthy before they met.

Janyce Brown in 2004 brought a $125 million lawsuit against the government, but a federal judge in Detroit ruled the family couldn’t sue for injuries a soldier suffered while on active duty.

Late last month, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati partially overturned O’Meara’s decision, saying the government is not liable for injuries suffered while Brown was on active duty but it can be sued for what happened once he returned to Michigan. The government may appeal, officials said.

“They should not be allowed to just use us up and throw us away,” said Brown, now alone and raising two disabled children, ages 9 and 10, on his disability income. “Somebody has got to be accountable.”

Mark Zeller, 42, a Gulf War veteran in Dahlonega, Ga., said he is about to bring a lawsuit against the government and believes the decision in Brown’s case will strengthen his legal position.

“I can’t do anything and I have to sleep all the time,” said Zeller, who has been diagnosed by Veterans Affairs doctors with chronic fatigue syndrome but says his wife and five children also constantly suffer from flulike symptoms.

Leishmaniasis is little-known in North America but common in southwest Asia and many other parts of the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12 million people in the tropics and subtropics have the disease. One form produces skin lesions.

The more severe and deadly form, which Brown has, attacks blood cells and the body’s internal organs. Like malaria, it is a chronic disease that can be controlled but not cured.

[And guess what. Lots of troops in Iraq get the skin lesions. And the military doctors give them a little cream to make it go away. And they do NOT tell the troops that the parasite the causes the skin lesions can still be alive and well insider your body, hibernating, and then breaking loose to infect and destroy your internal organs.

Dr. Katherine Murray Leisure is a former Department of Veterans Affairs doctor now in private practice in Lebanon, Pa., specializing in infectious diseases. She said leishmaniasis if often difficult to diagnose and could be an underlying factor in half or more of the thousands of cases of veterans commonly referred to as suffering from “Gulf War syndrome.”

Bedouins and others who live in the desert clothe their entire bodies for good reasons, Murray Leisure said. But, when U.S. forces go to the desert to fight, “we try to pretend we’re at the Jersey shore.”

No reliable numbers are available on how many family members believe they have been infected.

But Riley, a registered nurse and former U.S. Air Force captain, said she believes tens of thousands of veterans’ relatives have suffered.

“I think this is the Titanic,” said Robert P. Walsh, Brown’s Battle Creek attorney. “All these guys saw was the tip of the iceberg.”

Arvid Brown, who grew up in southwest Detroit, spent about six months overseas during Desert Storm, helping to build, maintain and operate a prisoner of war camp near Hafr Al-Batin in northeastern Saudi Arabia, about 25 miles from the Iraqi border.

Brown remembers the sand flies, the camel spiders and the bug repellent. He remembers meeting soldiers in the desert who wore dogs’ flea collars around their necks, wrists and ankles and thinking how unhealthy that seemed.

The muscle aches, bone pains, headaches and rashes began while he was in Saudi Arabia, but “it was easy to attribute it to heat and everything I was doing,” Brown recalled.

Solving the mystery would take seven years as Brown’s condition worsened through periods of disorientation, blackouts, extreme light sensitivity and almost unbearable pain. By 1998, when he was finally diagnosed, Brown had lost his job, been forced to give up driving and said he awoke early most mornings from a fitful sleep, vomiting blood.

Veterans Affairs doctors, who according to court records examined Brown on Sept. 13, 1994, but did not detect the disease, said he was suffering anxiety attacks and prescribed pills, Brown said. The department did not grant him benefits until 1998 and only this year recognized his diagnosis of leishmaniasis.

Brown wed Janyce Surface in September 1994 as his health continued to spiral downward. He lost his job and they struggled to pay bills.

Children arrived: Asa, now 10, in 1995, and his sister, Helen, now 9, in 1997. Both were born with severe handicaps and later tested positive for leishmaniasis. Helen is still unable to speak.

It was Janyce Brown who got her husband an appointment with Forstall, who diagnosed Arvid Brown with leishmaniasis in October 1998. Chemotherapy put the disease into remission, though Brown continues to struggle with his health today.

By 2000, Janyce Brown and both children had also tested positive for leishmaniasis. As Janyce struggled to care for her husband and look after two young children with cerebral palsy, her own health rapidly deteriorated. She died at home of cancer.

“She was an extremely intelligent individual, someone with the will and the nerves of steel and the tenaciousness of the meanest bulldog you had ever come across,” Brown said.

“She was fighting for her husband, the man she loved … and her children … She will always be my biggest hero.”

Editors note:  The Browns have Leishmaniasis Viscerotropica which was formerly considered to a cutaneous species but has evolved into a milder visceral species.  It takes longer to kill you.  It may or may not produce skin lesions.



Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Leishmaniasis, Political Watch, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Military Disease Surveillance, Leishmaniasis at Epinews

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 26, 2010

US Army reports fewer cases of leishmaniasis, but a complex threat persists

Rates of a disfiguring infection seem to be plummeting among soldiers in Iraq. But much of that decline is due to a failure to report new cases—and civilian doctors could miss a life-threatening form of the disease among returning vets and contractors

Returning soldiers and contractors who harbor infections could go undiagnosed by civilian doctors unfamiliar with leishmaniasis

‘It will be difficult to estimate the true number of infected soldiers’

Global Distribution of Leishmaniasis

by Bryant Furlow
EPI NEWS

June 3, 2007—The US Army has received markedly fewer reports of soldiers with leishmaniasis in Iraq and Afghanistan since a major outbreak in 2003, according to a report by the Army Medical Surveillance Activity (AMSA) office. But medical experts caution that much of the change may actually be due to incomplete case reporting rather than fewer infections.

Known as the “Baghdad boil” among troops, leishmaniasis is caused by a protozoan parasite spread by biting sand flies. It is usually a disfiguring, nonlethal skin disease, but sometimes spreads to the spleen and liver, causing a life-threatening visceral disease known as kala-azar or black fever.

According to the AMSA report, at least 1,300 soldiers have been diagnosed with “clinically significant” cases of leishmaniasis since deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq. Other reports put the number at 2,500. Many more are infected but have not developed skin lesions. Mercifully few have developed visceral leishmaniasis. Army sources are vague about the number of visceral cases, but agree that it is “very low.” No soldiers have died of the disease, according to Jaime Cavazos, an Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) spokesman.

Ninety-six percent of soldiers affected are male, according to the AMSA report, and 90 percent were infected in Iraq. The number of civilian contractors with leishmaniasis is unknown.

Medical intelligence warnings ignored
In October 2002, well prior to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC) warned that leishmaniasis would be a danger for troops. However,military sources say that insect repellant and bed nets were frequently in short supply, and that many unit commanders failed to emphasize the risk to their troops.

Read the entire story at Epinews.com


Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Labor, Leishmaniasis, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Leishmaniasis: Fun Facts

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 25, 2010

Leishmaniasis is a blood borne parasite in all of it’s forms

It is not known why some forms visceralize and some normally do not

Leishmaniasis can remain dormant in a healthy person for up to twenty years

Leishmaniasis can live in stored blood for up to thirty days

Leishmaniasis is normally transmitted by the bite of an infected female sandfly

Leishmaniasis is also transmittable sexually, congenitally, and by blood transfusion or sharing needles.

There is NO Sterile cure for leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis has been at epidemic levels in various parts of Afghanistan and Iraq for the duration of the wars

There is a one year ban on blood donations from persons having been to Iraq or Afghanistan

Leishmaniasis is a very variable bug and there is still much we do not know about it

Cutaneous species are showing signs of visceralizing

More on Leishmaniasis here

Posted in Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Leishmaniasis, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Texas Tech Biologist Trying to Discover Cure for Devastating Insect-Borne Illness

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 24, 2010

Kai Zhang has made it his mission to cure Leishmania, the second-leading parasitic killer.

They’re about a third of the size of a mosquito, but the sandfly’s bite can pack a miserable, if not lethal, punch.

It’s not that the sandfly itself is poisonous. But the parasitic Leishmania protozoa in its saliva can cause anything from itchy skin irritation or disfiguring ulcers that take months to heal to a painful attack on the body’s organs that could eventually lead to death.

Deadly Protozoa

But one Texas Tech researcher is dedicating his career to finding the chink in the armor of these protozoa, which, in its most virulent form, is the second-leading parasitic killer after Malaria.

Kai Zhang, an assistant professor of biology, has studied the protozoa since 2000. He recently received a Recovery Act award of $136,000 from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study certain infection-causing lipid molecules in Leishmania in the hopes of diffusing them and rendering the organism harmless.

“You can find sandflies mostly in the Middle East, Africa, some parts of South and Central America – mainly tropical and sub-tropical areas,” Zhang said. “It’s kind of a blood-sucking insect. It can transmit the infective organism into humans or animals. Humans are just one of Leishmania’s hosts, and we’re probably accidental hosts. The natural hosts in the world are rodents and canines.”  Read the full story here

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Department of Labor, Leishmaniasis, Toxic Exposures | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Leishmaniasis from Iraq and Afghanistan a Hazard, but not a War Hazard

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 22, 2010

There will be no “Defense of Freedom Medal” for being infected with the Leishmaniasis parasite.

Leishmaniasis is a one celled parasite normally contracted via the bite of a female sandfly.

These sandflys and the parasite they carry are endemic to many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Locals and visitors to these endemic areas are always at risk of contracting Leishmaniasis if precautions are not taken to keep from being bitten.

Leishmaniasis is no more a War Hazard than Malaria or any of the regular work place accidents that occur while working overseas yet are not reimbursable under the War Hazards Act.

So unless the female sandflys have taken up arms and joined Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which would require a complete reversal regarding their views on women…..

The War Hazards Tribunal up in Ohio needs to beware the DBA Insurance Company attempts to paint them as insurgents.

This is the first in our series of reports on Leishmaniasis which most of you who worked in the War Zones were exposed to.

Statistically, it is likely that many of you carry this parasite unawares………

Posted in ACE, AIG and CNA, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Leishmaniasis, Political Watch, War Hazards Act | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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