But Hauser said the IOM panel could not confirm that. "We have been unable to identify any particular drug, toxin, immunization or exposure that we feel confident is responsible for these symptoms, which are clearly highly prevalent even 19 years later in our returning veterans," he said.
"We do not understand the etiology and do not fully understand whether this is a single medical problem, or several interrelated problems," Hauser added. "We don't understand the relationship between Gulf War illness and other multi-symptom problems."
Gulf War-linked illnesses affect not only U.S. veterans, but veterans from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada and Australia, Hauser noted.
This is the latest in a series of reports on Gulf War illness from the IOM.
According to Hauser, the latest medical technologies may open a door to finding the connection between deployment and Gulf War illnesses. "Modern science gives us a way to explore the underlying cause in a way that was unimaginable five years ago," he said.
Unlocking the secret of Gulf War illness is possible, Hauser said. Not only will this lead to better treatment for veterans, but for civilians who suffer from similar problems, he said.
Moreover, some of these same problems are being seen in soldiers fighting today in Iraq and Afghanistan and even among those not deployed.
"One of the interesting things that we see are the symptoms we have been focused on in the Gulf War, are experienced also by soldiers in current Mid-East wars, but the frequency of these symptoms is high even in those soldiers who are not deployed," Hauser said. "This seems to be an increasing problem in the military population at large."
IOM Committee member Dr. Ezra S. Susser, a professor of epidemiology at Mailman School of Public Health and professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, noted th
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