Saturday, November 12, 2016

Vietnam vets seek help for rare cancer

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2016, PAGE #13                                                           As Seen In: NEWSDAY

DANVILLE, Calif. — They were the lucky ones who man­aged to make it home from Viet­nam. Now, a half-century later, some veterans are finding out they, too, are victims of the war.
The enemy is a known killer in parts of Asia: Parasites in­gested in raw or poorly cooked river fish. These liver flukes attach to the lining of the bile duct and, over time, cause inflammation and scar­ring. Decades after infection, a rare cancer called cholangio-carcinoma can develop. Symp­toms typically do not occur until advanced stages.
Ralph Erickson, who heads post-deployment health ser­vices at the Department of Vet­erans Affairs, said about 700 cholangio-carcinoma patients have passed through the agency's medical system in the past 15 years. In some instances, the government has acknowl­edged that the illness is "as likely as not" connected to vet­erans' time in service. By VA standards, that's enough to make them eligible for benefits. Less than half of those 700 submitted claims, however, in part because they were un­aware of any possible link to service. Of the claims submit­ted, 3 out of 4 have been re­jected, according to data ob­tained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
As a result, some veterans are spending their final days fighting the VA. They say they were never told they could be at risk, even though they were deployed to a region where the worms are endemic.
"Hard to believe," said veteran Michael Baughman, 64,
as he sat in his living room in Danville, California, flipping through a photo album from his war days. "I dodged all those bullets, then get killed
by a fish."        — AP

VA Medical Center, Northport, NY

Only 700 cases....REALLY, VA....REALLY!!
Both the Liver Fluke and the Blood Fluke (close cousins) are known to be ingested not only from local fish, but also from local water and local leafy plants and vegetables. They are extremely prevalent in the rice paddies of Asia and Southeast Asia. There is, currently, a contingent of Veterans at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY who are trying to get properly tested for this parasite. The VA has known about this disease since 1997 when the VFW launched a successful law suit for Widow’s benefits from a Veteran who was positively identified as having the Liver Fluke parasite. The VA has not acknowledged the existence of this disease, and therefore, has no need to install a protocol to test for it.
There are other factors that the VA has decided to ignore. Another similar parasite has reared its ugly head in the form of a Blood Fluke. The Blood Fluke has many of the same characteristics as the Liver Fluke and is equally as deadly once released from the digestive system some forty to fifty years after contamination. There is currently one case of Blood Fluke at the VAMC, Northport. It was discovered by the Veteran demanding that he be tested thoroughly for all parasites. Unfortunately the VAMC Northport has not read the CDC report on treatment protocol. They have chosen to go with a single dose of medication to attack the adult Fluke. The CDC outlines to necessity to treat for any eggs that may be presumed to be present; there is also a very rigorous testing of stool samples that goes along with the multiple doses of both medications.
Both these particular Fluke are considered endemic in Southeast Asia (i.e., Vietnam), and the only certified testing Laboratory for Liver Fluke is in Seoul, So. Korea. There have been recent indications that both these Fluke have turned up in the Mideast (i.e., Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria). One would think that the VA Medical system would be willing and able to set up testing and treatment here in the U.S. After numerous law suits and hundreds of proven cases, past and present, the Department of Veterans Affairs choses to turn a blind eye and not even acknowledge the existence of Blood Fluke and its cousin, Liver Fluke. This denial may well be deliberate, because, once either fluke emerges from dormancy, it is no longer treatable and death occurs very shortly thereafter.
A PLEA TO ALL VETERANS......Go to your VA Medical Facility and demand to be tested for these, and other, parasites. It is normally done through the Infectious Disease office/clinic. The current VA test involves a blood sample and a stool sample. If you don’t do this for yourself, please do it for other Veterans who are not aware they have a ticking time-bomb in their body.

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