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Infectious Diseases and Gulf War Veterans

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VA presumes the following infectious diseases are related to military service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the first Gulf War starting August 2, 1990, through the conflict in Iraq and on or after September 19, 2001, in Afghanistan.

Veterans must have the diseases within the time frames shown below and have a current disability as a result of that disease in order to receive disability compensation.

  • Malaria
    An infectious disease caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include chills, fever, and sweats. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year from the date of military separation or at a time when standard or accepted treatises indicate that the incubation period began during a qualifying period of military service.
  • Brucellosis
    A bacterial disease with symptoms such as profuse sweating and joint and muscle pain. The illness may be chronic and persist for years. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year from the date of military separation.
  • Campylobacter Jejuni
    A disease with symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year from the date of military separation.
  • Coxiella Burnetii (Q Fever)
    A bacterial disease with symptoms such as fever, severe headache, and gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and diarrhea. In chronic cases, the illness may cause inflammation of the heart. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of the date of military separation.
  • Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
    An illness that primarily affects the lungs and causes symptoms such as chest pain, persistent cough (sometimes bloody), weight loss and fever.
  • Nontyphoid Salmonella
    A condition characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of the date of military separation.
  • Shigella
    A condition characterized by symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year of the date of military separation.
  • Visceral Leishmaniasis
    A parasitic disease characterized by symptoms such as fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anemia. The condition may be fatal if left untreated.
  • West Nile Virus
    A disease spread by mosquitoes characterized by symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain or weakness, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. It must be at least 10 percent disabling within one year from the date of military separation.

VA benefits

Gulf War Veterans may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits, including a Gulf War Registry health exam, health care, and disability compensation for diseases related to military service. Their dependents and survivors also may be eligible for benefits.

Learn more about benefits related to Gulf War service.

Research on infectious diseases and Gulf War Veterans

VA contracts with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences to scientifically review evidence for possible connections between Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses and exposure to environmental agents or preventive medicine during military service.

Based on the IOM report, Gulf War and Health: Volume 5 Infectious Disease, the Secretary of VA established a presumption of service connection for nine infectious diseases related to qualifying military service in the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. The diseases are brucellosis, campylobacter jejuni, coxiella burnetii (Q fever), malaria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, nontyphoid salmonella, shigella, visceral leishmaniasis and West Nile virus. VA's final regulation took effect September 29, 2010.

View more research on health effects of Gulf War service.


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