Gulf War Syndrome – Any Helpful Treatment? In your opinion, what is Gulf War Syndrome? Is there any helpful treatment at this point? Reply: Gulf War Syndrome, or as we like to call it Gulf War Illnesses, are a collection of chronic illnesses, of which the most common form is similar to CFS in its signs/symptom profile. Similar to CFS, they have a multi-factorial basis, meaning that they have multiple causes and thus multiple treatments are necessary. We found, and this was confirmed in a multi-center study, that in about 40% of GWI cases a Mycoplasma could be found in blood, but in contrast to CFS, in GWI there tends to be only one species—Mycoplasma fermentans, which is also the most common species found in Lyme Disease. We and others found that treatment of the cohort of GWI that have M. fermentans with doxycycline lead to complete recovery in most patients. However, in a poorly designed VA study (with only 65% compliance) differences between test and control arms were only seen in the short term, not the long-term (after one year). There are probably a number of reasons for this, including the complete lack of other treatment support, such as immune support, Lipid Replacement Therapy, etc. but also the poor compliance of patients in the trial. It’s interesting that more and more VA hospitals now use this Abx therapy, even as it is still questioned by the Department of Defense. The most contentious issue was our finding of unusual gene sequences in the military GWI patients but not in civilian forms of CFS where about 60% of patients have similar infections (but with a variety of different Mycoplasma species). I should state that one exception to the civilian situation was found n the Texas prison system where vaccine medical experiments were conducted in the mid-1980s. There we also found only one species of mycoplasma—M. fermentans. Also, epidemiologists were finding a link between GWI and the multiple vaccines that military personnel received during deployment. Thus our theory was that the multiple military vaccines were the most logical source of the Mycoplasma fermentans found in GWI. You can imagine how well that was received by the DoD and the medical community. In retrospect, we should have known that the response would be to attack the messenger. Friendly fire casualties are never acceptable to the DoD (just look at the furor over the Pat Tillman episode), and we should have realized that important point while reporting our studies. Reviews, primary publications and reports on GWI can be found on and downloaded from our website, www.immed.org, under Gulf War Illness Research.