Occupational lung diseases in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans

A Wednesday morning session will explore the inhalational exposures and respiratory outcomes of military deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Presenters will review current knowledge on complex inhalational exposures, epidemiologic studies, animal toxicology studies, and clinical lung findings in U.S. military men and women who are returning from Southwest Asia.

D6 "Occupational in U.S. Military Personnel Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan" will take place from 8:15 to 10:45 a.m. in the Wells Fargo Theatre Section 1 on the street level of the Colorado Convention Center.

The symposium will interest researchers and clinicians alike, said co-chair Cecile S. Rose, MD, MPH, who is professor at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado in Denver.

"We've described a new disease called Iraq-Afghanistan War (IAW-LI), among soldiers deployed to these countries as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn" said Anthony Szema, MD, who will co-chair with Dr. Rose. "Not only do soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer serious respiratory problems at a rate seven times that of soldiers deployed elsewhere, but the respiratory issues they present with show a unique pattern of fixed obstruction in half of cases, while most of the rest are clinically-reversible new-onset asthma, in addition to the rare called nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis associated with inhalation of titanium and iron."

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are faced with a barrage of respiratory insults, including: 1) dust from the sand, 2) smoke from the burn pits, 3) aerosolized metals and chemicals from exploded IEDs, associated with 4) blast overpressure or to the lung, 5) outdoor aeroallergens such as date pollen, and 6) indoor aeroallergens such as mold aspergillus. Dr. Szema and colleagues have experimentally exposed mouse models to samples of the dust taken from Iraq and Afghanistan and found that it produces extreme histological responses, underscoring the severe exposures that these soldiers undergo.

Robert Miller, MD, of Vanderbilt University will discuss constrictive bronchiolitis in a cohort of soldiers deployed to Iraq.

Researchers face a number of issues, Dr. Rose said. For one, "there is a lack of pre-deployment lung function data, making it impossible to determine the extent of the damage that these exposures can cause," she said.

Further challenges include the spectrum of possible lung diseases that may be occurring from Southwest Asia exposures, such as asthma, constrictive bronchiolitis, acute eosinophilic pneumonia and rhinosinusitis, and the variability in exposures that may confer risk, including particulate matter from desert dusts, burn pits, vehicle exhaust and tobacco smoke.

Clinicians face a different set of challenges with this patient population, including "the role of targeted medical surveillance in determining need for further respiratory diagnostic evaluation, and, importantly, the role of surgical lung biopsy in clinical diagnosis of post-deployment disease," she said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

3 hours ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

3 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

US Ebola patient had contact with kids: governor

3 hours ago

A man who was diagnosed with Ebola in virus in Texas came in contact with young children, and experts are monitoring them for any signs of disease, governor Rick Perry said Wednesday.

UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

4 hours ago

The United Nations mission in Liberia announced on Wednesday the first suspected victim among its employees of the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the impoverished west African nation.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JerryW9
not rated yet May 22, 2011
It's about time! Asthma, allergies, what appear to be toxic reactions seem to be all over the place in OIF/OEF soldiers. Get after it so we don't have another Gulf War Syndrome or Agent Orange situation!