BY DAN DOYLE
According to a story on CBS News Baltimore, there is yet another silent killer besides Agent Orange for Vietnam veterans to be concerned about; a parasite called a fluke worm that can live for decades in a person’s without symptoms. When symptoms do show, it may be too late.
One gets this fluke worm by eating raw or undercooked fish. Apparently this disease is endemic to rivers in Vietnam. It is said that these flukes effect up to 25 million people worldwide.
According to the CBS Baltimore piece, the disease “can be treated easily and effectively with a handful of pills if caught early on,” if not it can develop into a deadly form of cancer that affects the bile duct. When symptoms do occur they are most evident in the form of severe pain. When this happens, the patient may have only months yet to live.
A study was conducted by Seoul National University in South Korea of 50 Vietnam veteran volunteers at the Northport VA Medical Center in New York. Of the 50 blood samples given by these volunteers, nearly 20 percent of them came back positive or bordering positive for liver fluke antibodies.
If Vietnam veterans remember eating raw or undercooked fish while in Vietnam, get this checked out. Over the last 15 years some 700 veterans were found to have the rare bile duct cancer. Of these about half did not file claims for benefits, because they did not know that it was related to their time in Vietnam.
Now that this disease has been discovered to have clear links to Vietnam, there should be no having to “fight” for the benefits that belong to all whose health has been affected by this disease because of their service in Vietnam. This goes for the various illnesses that are connected to the defoliant Agent Orange too. We need Congress and the VA to pick up the ball on this before it is too late. We served our country. Now it’s time for our country to take up its responsibilities toward those of us who have been negatively affected by these diseases that are directly related to that service.
Preserved liver fluke parasites (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) Some of the hundreds of Vietnam War veterans who have suffered from cholangiocarcinoma, (Phto by AP)