HC Deb 26 April 2004 vol 420 c725W
Mr. Flook

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1)if he will instruct the Medical Assessment Programme to test for(a) squalene anti-bodies and (b) mycroplasmal infection in servicemen who served in the first Gulf War; [167548]

(2) whether he has discussed testing for (a) squalene anti-bodies and (b) mycroplasmal infection with the combined medical services; [167549]

(3)for what reasons UK servicemen who served in the first Gulf War have not been tested for (a) squalene anti-bodies and (b) mycroplasma infection; [167550]

(4) what assessment he has made of the work of Dr. Garth Nicolson of the Institute of Molecular Medicine on the use of a six to 12-month course of antibiotics in treating those with mycroplasmal organisms following service in the first Gulf War. [167554]

Mr. Caplin

The work of Dr. Nicholson has been monitored as part of the Ministry of Defence's consideration of research into Gulf veterans' illnesses. In line with its normal approach to issues relating to the health of Gulf veterans, the MOD takes medical and scientific advice from a range of internal and external sources. In this instance, there was no requirement to consult formally with the Defence Medical Services although they are aware of the matter. In the light of trials funded by the US Government based on Dr. Nicolson's work, we have concluded that there is no evidence to support a connection between illness among veterans and mycoplasma infections or that aggressive antibiotic treatment would benefit veterans. Assessments undertaken by the US Armed Forces Epidemiological Board similarly support the view that there is no evidence that ill health is linked to the presence of squalene antibodies. It would be inappropriate to subject veterans to tests for which there is no clinical indication.

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