Study Shows Jungle Parasite From Southeast Asia May Be Killing American Vietnam Veterans

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The Vietnam War is controversial for too many reasons. Now, though, there is a new war the war is killing of American veterans. A new study shows that some vets who served in Southeast Asia may have picked up a parasite. This parasite is proving fatal, even decades after the initial infection.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs this spring commissioned a small pilot study to look into the link between liver flukes ingested through raw or undercooked fish and a rare bile duct cancer,” the Daily Mail reports.

Many who were infected by cholangiocarcinoma show no signs of infection for decades. Once the onset of symptoms begin, the pain becomes excruciating. And it is often too late to do anything.

“This combination of file photos provided by their families shows some of the hundreds of U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War who suffered from cholangiocarcinoma, a rare bile duct cancer believed to be linked to liver fluke parasites in raw or poorly cooked river fish.”

“Top row from left are Andrew G. Breczewski, Arthur R. Duhon Sr., Clarence E. Sauer, Dennis Anthony Reinhold, Donald Edward Fiechter, George Jardine, Horst Alexander Koslowsky, Hugo Rocha and James Robert Zimmerman. Second row from left are James Vincent Kondreck, John J. Skahill Jr., Johnny Herald, Leonard H. Chubb, Louis A. DiPietro, Mario Petitti, Mark M. Lipman, Marvin H. Edwards and Michael Kimmons. Third row from left are Mike Brown, Paul Smith, Pete Harrison, Peter D. Antoine, Ralph E. Black, Ricardo Ortiz Jr., Richard Anthony Munoz, Robert J. Fossett Jr. and Robert L. Boring. Fourth row from left are Robert Lee Phelps, Ronald Lee Whitman, Thomas F. Brock, Thomas M.”

The Northport VA Medical Center in New York collected blood samples and sent them to a lab at Seoul National University in South Korea.More than 20% of those samples tested positive.

The study was small, though. 50 veterans were tested. The parasites are common around the world, but not in America. After the tests came back with such high numbers, the VA began asking questions. It seems more than 700 veterans have been treated for cholangiocarcinoma in the last15 years.

How many more may be infected is unknown. Many of those who have already been treated, or those who have succumbed to the disease, were unaware of the link to Vietnam.