-- The Pentagon is working to determine how about 100 U.S.
soldiers in Iraq and other parts of southwestern Asia got
pneumonia, killing two so far, while saying that a biological
toxin likely played no part in the outbreak.
found no evidence of anthrax, smallpox or any other biological
agent to which we can attribute the pneumonia,'' Colonel
Robert DeFraites, of the office of the Army Surgeon General,
told reporters in Washington.
March, soldiers deployed to the Iraqi conflict and the
military operation in Afghanistan have contracted the
infection of the lungs, and about 15 of those cases were
serious enough for doctors to put the patients on respirators.
One of the seriously ill soldiers died in June and another
died last month, according to the Pentagon.
the 15 most serious cases occurred in Iraq, with others
showing up as far away as Uzbekistan and Qatar, DeFraites
said. The most recent case was confirmed July 30.
have arisen about the illness as the U.S. searches for
chemical and biological arms that it says the Iraqi regime
held before the war. While there are no known instances
of such munitions being used against U.S. or British
soldiers in the invasion, troops did find bio-chemical
protection suits stored in Iraqi facilities as they moved
through the country.
deaths prompted the U.S. surgeon general to dispatch
two epidemiological teams, one to Iraq and another to
Germany, to study the patients and try to come up with
recommendations on how to prevent the spread of the disease.
The majority of the most seriously ill patients are being
treated at a U.S. military base in Landstuhl, Germany.
technicians are among the specialists in the team sent
has been able to trace the cause of the infections in
two of the most serious cases to a common bacteria, a
condition called streptococcal pneumonia, Pentagon officials
are sparing no effort to further analyze and diagnose
the nature of this condition,'' Dr. David Tornberg, deputy
assistant secretary of Defense for clinical and program
policy, said at the briefing.
said that given the number of soldiers deployed in the
affected areas -- around 150,000 in the Iraq operation
alone - - the number of pneumonia cases ``is about the
amount that one might expect'' and compares with the
400 to 500 cases of pneumonia the Army treats every year
have been 17 deaths from pneumonia in the armed forces
in the past five years, DeFraites said.
can be caused by exposure to certain bacteria, viruses,
parasites and fungi, as well as environmental conditions
such as dust, smoke or metals, DeFraites said.
recommended soldiers try to wear facemasks to limit their
exposure to dust, and wet the ground when they need to
sweep to avoid dust clouds. The Army is also reminding
soldiers that smoking cigarettes lowers resistance to