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Friday, January 15, 1999 Published at 12:35 GMT


Gulf War Illness timeline

Gulf War veterans want compensation for medical problems

December 1990

A month before the beginning of the Gulf War, the Department of Health faxes a warning to the Ministry of Defence about the dangers of using anthrax and pertussis vaccines in combination.

Many believe they were injected with a deadly combination of vaccines.

February 1991

The Gulf War ends. Despite the health warning, many soldiers have been given the vaccines, unaware of the possible side-effects.

Autumn 1991

First media reports about Gulf War syndrome appear.

June 1993

More than 100 sick veterans are suffering from hair and weight loss, facial paralysis and bleeding gums. MoD denies ailment.

Autumn 1993

Medical Assessment Programme set up. Hundreds of veterans take part, but in 1994 MoD admits large number of medical records have been destroyed.

February 1995

480 sufferers of the syndrome announce they are going to sue the MoD for compensation.

April 1995

Government says it is not prepared to pay the compensation.

Gulf war veterans insist there has been a cover-up.

June 1995

MoD again denies the existence of Gulf War Syndrome, saying the veterans are suffering from chronic fatigue.

March 1996

Independent tests on veterans show the first physical evidence that the syndrome exists.

October 1996

Government admits British troops were exposed to harmful organophosphate pesticides, contrary to earlier MoD statements.

November 1996

US studies of almost 70,000 Gulf veterans conclude there is no single coherent diagnosis of the diseases suffered by veterans after the Gulf War.

Nicholas Soames is accused of "complacency and incompetence" by Labour.

December 1996

Defence Minister Nicholas Soames announces £1.32m epidemiological research into so-called Gulf War Syndrome, but study does not include looking at the possible damaging combination of multiple vaccines and anti-nerve gas tablets used by the troops.

May 1997

New Labour government promises a "fresh start" in studying Gulf War illnesses, including looking at multiple vaccines and anti-nerve gas tablets.

October 1997

Government admits that the MoD ignored warnings by the Department of Health, allowing British troops to be injected with unlicensed vaccines.

September 1998

A US Senate Committee report says there is no evidence to support the theory that there is any single cause of Gulf War Illness. It also states that the symptoms are not caused by nerve gas exposure.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies three categories of symptoms for Gulf War Illness: muscular disorders, psychological distress and skeletal disorders.

The report suggests there is a definable disease linked to service in the Gulf War.

January 1999

Report by King's College in London suggests military personnel who served in the Gulf War are suffering far greater illness than those who served in Bosnia.

However, the report also says there is no proof of a unique pattern of symptoms to back the existence of a syndrome of illness.

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