Emerging Worlds: Chronic Illness and Viral Infections



As a relatively “new” illness, research is ongoing as to the definition and cause of the Gulf War Illness or Syndrome. The political will to explore possible infectious causes of Gulf War illness is tempered by concerns of revealing aspects of the nation’s biological weapons program. And, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the rate of symptoms among Gulf War veterans is not significantly different among military who did not go to the Gulf War. The claim is that this constitutes extremely strong evidence for what's called the "nul hypothesis" in scientific studies, in other words, the hypothesis that there is no Gulf War Syndrome.

Yet for the many people suffering the symptoms, it is very real. Scientists and researchers continue to work on discovering more about this illness.


As yet, there is no definitive cause that has been identified for Gulf War Illness. In testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans’ Affairs and International Relations, on February 2, 2000, Howard B. Urnovitz, Ph.D. stated:

“Some of the government- funded epidemiological studies, particularly those of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the University of Texas Southwestern have been very meaningful. Most of the government-funded research conducted thus far, however, has focused on trying to quantify exposures with little or no data, identifying single exposure agents as the sole causative factor, or summarizing the research of others. The identification of the range of toxic exposures would assist greatly in determining the array of causative factors associated with GWS. Today, we already have a great deal information on the potential exposures during the Gulf War. Unfortunately, since a significant amount of the data was not collected, we will never know with any degree of certainty what the extent and combination of the exposures were in the case of each individual patient. Further, identification of these exposures alone will not reveal the disease mechanisms involved the progression of these illnesses.”

He also stated, “The GAO report recognizes medical science's conventional approach to chronic illnesses. The paradigm continues to be a search for a single causative agent. The weakness in this conceptual approach is that most chronic diseases are multifactorial. This single causative agent approach was formulated long before science recognized that the human body can sustain damage at the cellular and molecular level from a variety of physical, chemical, or biological insults, and long before we determine the vast arrays of hazardous materials to which these veterans were exposed. Assigning any one entity as the causative agent will impede any progress in designing medical control of a chronic disorder.” (see link below for full article.)

Stealth Virus

There is another possible cause, proposed by Dr. John Martin of the Center for Complex Infectious Diseases (CCID), who discovered what he calls a “stealth virus” (Cytopathic viruses that lack antigens required for protective anti-viral cellular immunity have been grouped under the generic term "stealth."). He notes the following research findings as pertains to Gulf War Illness:

1. Atypical cytopathic "stealth-adapted" viruses have been cultured from blood samples received from veterans diagnosed as having Gulf War illness. Positive cultures have also been obtained from their family members, many of whom have also become sick. Stealth-adapted viruses are currently being introduced into the Nation’s blood supply and were probably present in the gamma globulin shots routinely received by deployed personnel. It is known that the processing of gamma globulin at that time was insufficient even to inactivate hepatitis C virus.

2. Stealth-adapted viruses can contain both viral and bacterial sequences. These novel life forms have been termed "viteria." Efforts to produce chimeric viral-bacterial agents were presumptively undertaken by the military and may have set the stage for the evolution of viteria.

3. The son of a married physician couple who served in the Gulf War developed a neurological illness. Both parents had begun to experience depression, personality changes and fatigue resulting in disruption of their marriage. For over seven months, the child’s abnormal behavior was attributed to his "acting-out" in response to his parent’s impending divorce. Even when organic disease was identified, a routine neurological examination was essentially normal. Both MRI and two subsequent brain biopsies were grossly abnormal. Both mother and child were stealth virus culture positive. The child showed a partial response to anti-viral therapy but subsequently died from cerebral herniation.

4. Stealth viruses have been cultured from veterans with malignant diseases, including a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer. This individual also experienced the gradual deterioration of his personality leading to marital separation more than a year before the tumor was discovered.

Gulf War Contaminated Polio Vaccine Additionally, a newswire article dated March 28, titled Gulf War Contaminated Polio Vaccine stated: “In response to today's release of a scientific study linking the oral polio vaccine (OPV) to Persian Gulf War veterans suffering from immune system and neurological dysfunction, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is calling for an investigation into the safety and effectiveness of the live polio vaccine including its interaction with other vaccines, drugs and environmental toxins.”

“At today's hearings of the Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations chaired by Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), California microbiologist Howard Urnovitz, Ph.D., presented evidence from a serum survey of civilians and Gulf War veterans demonstrating that deployed and nondeployed Gulf War veterans failed to mount a proper antibody response to polio serotype 2 and deployed veterans failed to mount a proper antibody response to polio serotype 3 in contrast to normal antibody responses to oral polio vaccine in the civilian population surveyed. Dr. Urnovitz pointed out that "failure to mount an antibody response to live polio vaccine has also been observed in association with post-viral fatigue syndrome illnesses," a syndrome with immune and neurological dysfunction symptoms closely mirroring those of sick Gulf War veterans.”

“The Pentagon directed that military personnel heading for the Gulf receive as many as 17 different live viral and killed bacterial vaccines simultaneously, including polio, cholera, hepatitis B, adenovirus, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcus, Plague, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, typhoid, yellow fever, anthrax and the experimental botulinium toxoid. In addition they were given the experimental drug pyridostigmine bromide, a nerve agent. NVIC, which helped to create the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 setting up a federal compensation system for individuals injured by mandated vaccines, has been a vocal critic of the lack of credible scientific studies supporting the safety of simultaneous administration of multiple viral and bacterial vaccines and the lack of scientific studies to identify high risk populations.” (see link below for full article.)


Symptoms of Gulf War Illnesses (according to the American Legion), include: chronic fatigue signs and symptoms involving skin (including skin rashes and unusual hair loss); headache; muscle pain; neurologic signs or symptoms (nervous system disorders which could manifest themselves in numbness in one's arm, for instance), neuropsychological signs or symptoms (including memory loss); signs or symptoms involving upper or lower respiratory system; sleep disturbances; gastrointestinal signs or symptoms (including recurrent diarrhea and constipation); cardiovascular signs or symptoms; and menstrual disorders. The symptoms are almost identical to those of several other diseases not associated with the Gulf War: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia, making diagnosis more difficult.


Until a definitive cause or causes is defined for Gulf War Illness, treatment consists of treating the various symptoms.

Dr. Martin’s CCID is intent on pursuing its interest in stealth viruses as a cause for the Gulf War Illness. They are encouraged by the finding that cell migration regulatory molecules termed “chemokines” are probably driving the replication of a prototype stealth virus. A listing of various herbal and proprietary medicines that can inhibit one or more of the complex stages leading to chemokine production has been developed. It is envisioned that knowledgeable clinicians would choose various combinations of agents from this list for potential therapy in stealth virus infected patients. Stealth virus cultures would be performed before, and 7-10 days after, therapy was begun. If significant suppression of viral activity is observed, the treatment would be continued, along with detailed clinical assessments. If no effect was seen, adding additional drugs and/or substituting medicines could adjust the protocol.

RELATED VIRUS SITES More information can be found on the stealth virus link on this website and at www.ccid.org, Dr. Martin’s website.


Gulf War Contaminated Polio Vaccine, WASHINGTON, March 28 /PRNewswire Testimony of Howard B. Urnovitz, Ph.D before House of Representatives Committee.


Gulf War Illness FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) Address: www.legion.org/gulfwarfaq.htm Frequently asked questions about Gulf War Illness compiled by the American Legion.

Office of the Special Assistant for the Gulf War Illnesses Address: www.gulflink.osd.mil The official WWW Information Service from the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses.

American Gulfwar Veterans Association Address: www.gulfwarvets.com The American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) was established with one goal in mind: To obtain treatment for those service members and their families who experience symptoms collectively known as the "Gulf War Illness". However, there is more to this issue than meets the eye. As this investigation into causation has now progressed into the arena of possible exposure to chemical and/or biological agents, radiation poisoning due to the use of depleted uranium and most disturbingly, the use of our fighting men and women as "Guinea Pigs" in medical experimentation, the AGWVA has now added a second goal: To obtain justice and compensation for all those affected by these illnesses. Our troops returned home after serving their country with an illness that appears to be spreading into the general population, treatment is being denied and to date there are no safeguards of our blood supply. Those responsible have passed the burden of proof onto those that are suffering and least able to fight the enormous bureaucracy of governmental agencies that are more concerned with avoiding admission.

Gulf War Illness Info Net Address: http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Spa/1136/

The purpose of this guide is for the Gulf War Era Veterans and their families to find out as much intelligent information about this multi- syndrome illness, find up-to-date News, read recent government misinformation, and to find the few and far between medical professionals willing to stick their necks out for the Gulf War Veterans and their families ill with GWI, with the knowledge that if the Government finds out there interest in GWI, that the government will stop there funding or stop their privileges of writing scripts.