February 29, 2004


By Mike Hamilton
THE curse of Britain's Gulf War babies is revealed today by the Sunday Mirror.

Five soldiers lose their babies... They all had the anthrax jab

Deaths, still-births, miscarriages, physical defects and sickness are all being blamed on anthrax jabs given to soldiers who went to Iraq.

In the case of 33 Field Hospital - an Army unit of 105 men and women who served in the Gulf last year - not one pregnancy has been trouble-free since the war. Among the victims were Lance-Corporal Andy Saupe and wife Alex, who lost baby Kye at just five weeks old.

FIVE minutes was all they had. Five precious minutes to say goodbye. Five minutes to cradle baby Kye in their arms before he died.

Lance-Corporal Andy Saupe was among 105 men and women serving with 33 Field Hospital who were given anthrax vaccinations before being called up for Gulf War 2.

Three months after returning home from Iraq he and wife Alex lost their five-week-old baby, born 10 weeks premature with growth problems and limb defects.

But they are not alone. The Sunday Mirror can reveal that since the war was declared over last May at least seven young couples linked to 33 Field Hospital have suffered pregnancy complications - most with tragic circumstances.

In fact not one pregnancy has been trouble-free.

As well as the death of Kye there has been one still-birth, two miscarriages, a forced termination and two premature births.

In every case one of the parents was given anthrax jabs.

The figures are shocking, especially when compared to the national average.

Among the general population, around one in 20 babies are still-born. One in 85 babies is born with some sort of physical defect. One in 10 babies is premature. Miscarriages hit one in four pregnancies.

Last night Kye's distraught mother Alex said: "We want answers.

"There have been too many problems in this unit for it to be a tragic coincidence."

33 Field Hospital was deployed to the Gulf at the beginning of last year and stationed on the Iraq-Kuwait border.

The unit - comprising medics, chefs, Royal Engineers, drivers, clerks and quartermasters - then moved up to Basra in southern Iraq.

Army sources say that in Gulf War 1 women soldiers were warned not to conceive within 12 months of various vaccinations being administered.

But members of 33 Field Hospital, based in Gosport, Hants - and other troops who served in the Gulf - say no warnings were given about anthrax jabs.

Experts now fear thousands of British troops who had the vaccinations face problems with having children.

The victims of 33 Field Hospital include:

-LANCE-CORPORAL Andy Saupe, 23, and wife Alex, 25, whose son Kye died after five weeks fighting for life.

-LANCE-CORPORAL Johann Haggerty, 28, and wife, Zoe, 23, whose son Joshua was still-born after a healthy pregnancy.

-PRIVATE Justin Bowen, 27, and his 20-year-old wife Vicky, and Army Nurse, whose son Scott was born premature and is still fighting for life.

-A ROYAL Engineer whose wife had to have a forced termination at five months because the baby was not developing properly.

-A WOMAN Fusilier who had a miscarriage.

-AN NCO whose wife, in her mid-30s, suffered a miscarriage.

-ARMY Medic Kirsty Wilson, 21, whose pregnancy was plagued by illness. Her son, Ryan, born eight days early, now suffers serious skin problems.

Last night the MoD was facing demands to stop anthrax vaccinations immediately and there were calls for the Government to hold a full public inquiry.

Professor Malcolm Hooper, a member of the MoD's independent vaccines panel, said: "This situation looks like a cluster and I am sure it is linked to the Anthrax vaccine.

"The numbers are relatively small and the Army will try to dilute them out with everyone else. But this is hugely significant and should not be ignored.

"Somebody should go down to Gosport and look at this problem carefully, not belittle people and brush this under the carpet."

Paul Tyler - a Liberal Democrat MP and member of the Royal British Legion Gulf War Group - said: "This sounds like conclusive evidence that the cocktail of vaccinations given to troops was totally unsafe.

"I'm afraid this is too much to be a coincidence. There should now be a full public inquiry - out in the open - into the inoculations given to troops.

"But instead there has been a constant state of denial from MOD officials and ministers over what amounts to a dereliction of duty and care to people serving their country."

Shaun Rusling, President of the National Gulf Veterans and Families' Association, praised the Sunday Mirror's investigation.

"It is extremely worrying that you have discovered these seven cases in one small unit," he said.

"Veterans across Britain are having problems but may not realise there is a wide scale problem until they read something like this.

"It is disgraceful that the Government will not hold a public inquiry into the erroneous vaccinations regime that is causing deaths and deformities in the children of war veterans."

Last night an MoD spokeswoman said: "Congenital disabilities are unfortunately common, affecting about one in 33 live births.

"In about two-thirds of these cases, no cause is found.

"The anthrax vaccine has been used for many years by both military and civilian professions, and no serious side-effects have been reported.

"People that are pregnant are advised to see a doctor on a one-to-one basis regarding vaccinations

"No advice was issued to military personnel with regard to conception in either conflict because no adverse reactions have been reported."

-The NGVFA's helpline number is 01482 833812.


LANCE-CORPORAL Andy Saupe had two anthrax injections 10 days apart in December 2002 after his unit was called up for The Gulf.

Weeks later his partner Alex became pregnant and the couple married a week before Andy was sent to the Gulf on February 16 last year.

While Andy, a chef, was in the Gulf, an initial scan showed Alex and baby were well. But when Alex went back a few weeks later doctors noticed serious problems. The baby was showing a lack of movement. His limbs were also not forming properly. As concerns about her pregnancy grew, Alex went into St Mary's Hospital in Portsmouth for more tests and was also sent to see geneticists at Southampton General Hospital. Alex said: "Doctors were baffled by the whole thing and could not tell me what was causing the problems." On July 24 last year Alex and Andy were in bed at their Army home in Gosport, Hants, when she went into labour 10 weeks early. She said: "I was having really bad stomach pains. Eventually I got up and phoned the hospital and they said to come in. Andy borrowed a friend's car and we started heading to the hospital in Portsmouth."

On their way there Alex went into labour. "We pulled over and I got into the back seat," said Alex. "I gave birth and Andy had to deliver Kye. He did a great job although he has only got basic Army first-aid training. The ambulance got there soon afterwards and they had to perform CPR (heart resuscitation) on Kye. They rushed him straight to hospital and then I had to wait for another ambulance to come and get me."

Kye, who weighed just 2lbs 10oz, was taken into intensive care. His facial features were not formed properly and his limbs were "fixed". He had 10 times the normal level of fluid around his heart and dark patches on the brain. For five weeks Kye fought for his tiny life, but eventually doctors told devastated Andy and Alex to prepare for the worst. The couple then took the heart-breaking decision to turn off his life-support equipment. "Eventually they told us to say our goodbyes," said Alex. "I spoke to Kye and said, 'If you are going to go, you can go now'."

Before Kye died Alex and Andy held him for five minutes to say goodbye. Alex said: "It was heartbreaking - every parents' worst nightmare."

Alex initially thought they had suffered an unexplained tragedy like those that hit many couples. But then she began hearing about others in Andy's unit who had suffered miscarriages, had premature births or had babies born desperately ill.

Alex asked doctors if the problems could be linked to the jabs Andy was given. She was told it could be possible - that preservatives used to store the anthrax could be to blame.


LANCE-CORPORAL Andy Saupe, 23, and wife Alex, 25, whose son Kye died after five weeks fighting for life.

LANCE-CORPORAL Johann Haggerty, 28, and wife, Zoe, 23, whose son Joshua was still-born after a healthy pregnancy.

A ROYAL Engineer whose wife had to have a forced termination at five months because the baby was not developing properly.

A WOMAN Fusilier who had a miscarriage.

AN NCO whose wife, in her mid-30s, suffered a miscarriage.

PRIVATE Justin Bowen, 27, and Army Nurse wife Vicky, 20, whose son Scott was born premature and fighting for life.

ARMY Medic Kirsty Wilson, 21, whose pregnancy was plagued by illness. Her son, Ryan, now suffers serious skin problems.

February 28, 2004

Army Proposal to use U.S. Soldiers as Human Test Subjects

M. Alexander Otto
Bureau of National Affairs

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) are facing a tough lawsuit by soldiers questioning the safety of the experimental anthrax vaccine. In response, DoD and FDA want a new drug category and bypass human test subject rules. This plan by DoD and FDA represents a major attempt to undermine the health and safety rights of soldiers. Congress must stop the DoD and FDA plan. We urge readers to familiarize themselves with the Nuremberg Code that prohibits using humans as experimental test subjects unless there is informed consent and the right to refuse.

Human Subject Protection

Army Researchers' Plan Seeks Exemption From FDA Experimental Product Safety Rules
Under a plan proposed by U.S. Army human research regulators, the Department of Defense could ignore key Food and Drug Administration safety standards when administering experimental products to soldiers, according to an October memorandum recently obtained by BNA from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases' Office of Human Use and Ethics.

Under current FDA rules, experimental drugs and devices only can be used in well-controlled clinical trials that test safety and efficacy.

That means the principal investigator must supervise the administration of the product and serious side effects must be reported to FDA within seven days, neither of which are practical in combat situations, according to the memorandum, dated Oct. 11, 2002.

Investigational products also must carry labels that state "Caution: New Drug-Limited by Federal (or United States) Law to Investigational Use."

"This label can lead the war fighter to question the safety and/or effectiveness of the product and may threaten operational objectives," according to the memo.

New FDA Category

The plan would exempt the military from the clinical trial requirement. Instead, a joint military and FDA panel would review the safety and efficacy of the agent, determine whether a clinical trial is feasible, identify ethical obligations, and approve the product under a new FDA category: "licensed for contingency."

The category would be reserved for "products unlikely to receive FDA approval under current rules but that have sufficient human safety and animal efficacy experience to permit military … use." The memo noted, however, that the military often fields products that have not been tested in humans "because of the great danger to individuals of conducting human clinical efficacy trials."

"DoD should continue to conduct trials when ethically appropriate and when time and resources permit compliance with the [Federal] Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act," the five-page memo stated.

Some of the content for this position paper was added to the DOD Medical Department legislative agenda, Dr. Arthur O. Anderson told BNA. Anderson is chief of the USARMIID Office of Human Use and Ethics and Department of Clinical Pathology. He co-authored the memo with Chris Beardmore, an administrator in the Office of Human Use and Ethics.

Advocate Skeptical

The move would resolve ongoing conflict with FDA about the use of experimental products. Following the Gulf War and action in Bosnia, DOD was criticized for failing to report adverse events, properly label and track investigational products, and ask soldiers' permission before administering experimental agents.

Dr. Meryl Nass, an advocate for soldiers injured by anthrax vaccine, botulinum toxin, nerve gas antidote, and other experimental products, takes a dim view of the initiative. It is part of an ongoing DOD campaign to free the military from basic human subject protections, she said.

Soldiers are subject to military discipline if they refuse an experimental product. Those injured have no recourse; soldiers cannot sue DOD for injuries received while in the service, Nass noted.

February 21, 2004

Anthrax shots made AU troops sick

Australlian News
By Cameron Stewart and Michael McKinnon

THE SAS and other Australian forces sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban suffered severe side effects from the anthrax vaccine, according to confidential Defence documents.

The documents also reveal that 97 crew aboard HMAS Darwin in the Gulf last year reported ill after being given the controversial vaccine.

Only a year earlier, the temporary side effects of the anthrax vaccine among troops bound for Afghanistan were so severe that the entire vaccination program for the 1550-strong deployment was suspended for two months.

However, the Howard Government did not disclose this to the troops bound for Iraq last year, who were also required to have the anthrax vaccination.

Defence documents obtained through Freedom of Information laws show that senior officers of the Australian Defence Force have expressed private concern about anthrax vaccine batches on several occasions in recent years.

Asked during a Senate estimates hearing this week if the ADF had any concerns over reactions or side effects, the head of the defence force's health service, Air Commodore Tony Austin, said: "No, we have not."

But an email sent to Commodore Austin on June 3 last year by another senior defence doctor, and obtained by The Weekend Australian, states that 97 sailors fell ill on HMAS Darwin after being given the injection.

"HMAS Darwin has 251 personnel, 97 completed an adverse reaction pro forma - giving an adverse reaction rate of 38 per cent," says the email, written by Colonel Stephan Rudzki.

"I'm not sure what is going on, but there appears to be a problem with the UK anthrax) vaccine."

The federal Government yesterday played down the seriousness of the incident, saying that only one of those 97 sailors who reported ill on HMAS Darwin required medical attention.

But Defence documents reveal that the ADF's problems with batches of the anthrax vaccine date back to November 2001, when the entire anthrax vaccination program for the military deployment to Afghanistan was secretly suspended.

The program was halted after up to 75 per cent of troops - including the elite SAS - fell ill after receiving the injection. The decision to halt the anthrax program was not made public at the time.

Although the severe side effects of the vaccine did not last for more than 48 hours, the then chief of the ADF, Admiral Chris Barrie, was advised that the vaccinations needed to be stopped to ensure the safety of troops in a war zone.

"(Defence) has reported a very high rate of adverse events being suffered by personnel," a briefing note from defence doctors to Admiral Barrie on November 15, 2001, states.

"(Defence) is concerned that such reactions could be operationally significant if the units concerned receive their vaccinations after being deployed.

"All units involved in this vaccination campaign have been told to cease use of the UK anthrax vaccine until further notice."

Internal documents state that the side effects from the vaccine included "swelling and pain severe enough for (troops) not to be able to use the affected arm, and flu-like illness severe enough for some personnel to require sick leave for 24-48 hours".

Defence initially suspected that the problems were caused by a bad batch of anthrax vaccine, but subsequent laboratory tests disproved this, and the cause of the Afghanistan health problems remains a mystery.

Early last year, Australian sailors and troops preparing to deploy for Iraq were told that the vaccine was safe, and that side effects would be no more than that resulting from a tetanus injection. The ADF did not tell troops heading to Iraq about the severity of the temporary health problems experienced by the SAS and others deployed to Afghanistan a year earlier.

Even so, 52 defence men and women refused to take the anthrax injection and were banned from serving in the Iraqi theatre. Of these, 42 were already deployed on navy ships and were flown back to Australia amid much publicity.

The Government has defended its decision to require anthrax injections for troops in Iraq, saying that it had a duty of care to protect them against possible anthrax attacks.

It says the vaccine is safe and that side effects are generally mild, otwithstanding the problems encountered in Afghanistan and on HMAS Darwin in the Gulf.

February 20, 2004

U.S. Army Assigns Soldiers Who Refused Anthrax Vaccine to Iraq

Global Security Newswire

Despite a U.S. Defense Department policy requiring anthrax vaccinations for all service members assigned to combat areas, at least four soldiers who refused the vaccine have been sent to Iraq, the Hartford Courant reported Tuesday (see GSN, Jan. 9).

Three of the four soldiers were charged in the last two months with disobeying a direct order to receive the vaccine, but the Army chose to deploy them in Iraq instead of prosecuting them, according to the Courant. The fourth soldier was charged over a year ago before he was sent to Iraq.

Critics of the Pentagon’s anthrax vaccination policy have said the deployments demonstrate the lack of an anthrax threat, the Courant reported.

“This is the first hint that a few courageous operational commanders are beginning to exercise judgment, and are acknowledging what Pentagon leaders will not — that the anthrax threat was simply political hype that is no longer worth losing good soldiers over,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Richardson, who has participated in a campaign to end the mandatory inoculations (Thomas Williams, Hartford Courant, Feb. 17).

Questions Linger Over Pentagon’s Use of Multiple, Simultaneous Vaccinations

By David Ruppe
Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON — Questions persist about possible serious health risks faced by U.S. military personnel who are required to receive multiple, simultaneous vaccinations, some national experts said this week. The Armed Forces Epidemiological Board met in Florida this week to review that question and other possible consequences of the vaccine policy, such as the risk of lesser side effects. The review could prompt the board to recommend spreading out military vaccinations over time when possible.

“There are reasons that if you have that opportunity, it probably makes sense to try to do it,” board president Stephen Ostroff, who is the associate director for epidemiologic science at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview yesterday. The military is evaluating simultaneous vaccinations in response to the April 2003 death of 22-year-old Army Reservist Specialist Rachel Lacy, who was vaccinated against anthrax, hepatitis B, measles-mumps-rubella, smallpox and typhoid fever a month earlier as she was preparing for service in Afghanistan (see GSN, Jan. 9, 2004).

Low Risk of Serious Illness

Reviewing previous studies, national experts presenting to the board Tuesday reported little biological or epidemiological evidence suggesting that simultaneously administering vaccinations could pose a risk of serious illness to the average soldier.

“There are a lot of individuals who have received multiple vaccinations over long periods of time, both inside the military and outside the military … and there is relatively little data that suggests it is a particular problem,” Ostroff said.

Some presenters concluded, however, that more research is needed to examine whether simultaneous military vaccinations could prompt perfectly healthy personnel with latent immunologic diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis to contract those diseases.

A post-mortem examination of Lacy’s blood specimens showed evidence of latent antibodies suggesting a predisposition to lupus, Ostroff said.

“There is at least some scientific information that suggests that it is possible that this could stimulate some parts of the immune system that could potentially activate latent disease,” Ostroff said.

“Now that’s all based on basic research and how well that translates into clinical experience is always difficult to know,” he added.

Possible Screening?

The possibility could present difficulties for the military.

“Can you screen for [latent predisposition to such diseases] and if you do screen for that, what does that mean for their future careers? Is there something you would do differently?” Ostroff said.

“I think that is part of what will ultimately have to be deliberated in terms of what our final response will be,” he said.

For the sake of expediency, the military has for decades quickly given large numbers of service personnel simultaneous vaccinations against natural diseases and more recently against potential biological weapons agents such as anthrax and smallpox that they might encounter on a deployment.

“Simultaneous immunization bears considerable advantage in efficiency increasing the immunity of military personnel, returning them to duty with few medical visits,” according to Col. John Grabenstein of the U.S. Army Medical Command, in a slideshow delivered to the board.

Citing numerous studies, Grabenstein concluded that, “Published evidence and accumulated experience of tens of millions of simultaneous vaccinations over decades suggests that harm from simultaneous vaccinations per se (in contrast to same number of separate vaccinations) is either very rare or nonexistent.”

He wrote also though that, “Additional work is need[ed] to help identify risk factors that might predispose to rare problems.”

Spreading Out Vaccinations Seems Preferable

Lacy’s case raised another issue under consideration by the board relevant to the simultaneous vaccination issue. Two panels in November said they were unable to conclude whether her death might have been prompted by a reaction to one specific vaccine since the effects of one vaccine can be difficult to isolate when given simultaneously with others (see GSN, Nov. 19, 2003).

“If they do have problems after receiving [a] vaccine, it’s hard to know which one they are having a reaction to if you’re giving them at the same time,” Ostroff said.

Presentations to the board this week also suggested that the simultaneous vaccination practice could increase less-severe side effects, he said.

“There was a sense that at least for the overall well being of the individual that’s getting them, it is preferable to spread them out,” he said.

February 17, 2004

Mass Vaccination Not Needed to Contain Smallpox Outbreak, Researchers Say

Global Security Newswire

Conducting a mass vaccination against smallpox in the United States could save some lives in the event of an outbreak, but the risks of vaccine side effects would outweigh most benefits, researchers announced Friday (see GSN, Jan. 30).

Presenting a paper in at an American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Seattle, Emory University researchers said that rapid detection and isolation of smallpox cases would effectively contain an outbreak, although delays of even one or two days could hamper control of an epidemic.

Although mass vaccination during or before a smallpox attack would result in fewer cases and deaths than would surveillance and containment, the researchers concluded that such a vaccination effort would cause an increased rate of vaccine-related serious illness and death that would offset the slightly lower number of smallpox illnesses and deaths.

In an earlier study the researchers concluded that targeted vaccination of the close contacts of infected individuals during a smallpox outbreak following a small attack could rival the effectiveness of mass vaccination, given a sufficiently high level of immunity within the population. Although routine smallpox vaccinations were stopped in 1972, recent studies have shown that previously vaccinated individuals retain substantial immunity.

In the current study, the Emory investigators constructed a model that simulated the spread of smallpox in a hypothetical community of typical contacts, using a population of the approximate age and household distribution of the United States, following a larger smallpox attack deliberately introduced through aerosolized virus. They found that containment and surveillance would be effective in containing a moderately large smallpox attack.

“This demonstrates the necessity for preparedness in our public health system. A rapid and efficient means of detecting cases and isolating them in case of an attack would be an essential component of the strategy of surveillance and containment,” according to Emory researcher Elizabeth Halloran (Emory University release, Feb. 14).

U.S. Army Makes Exceptions To Anthrax Shots Rule

By THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, Courant Staff Writer

The U.S. Army has sent to Iraq at least four soldiers who have refused to be vaccinated against anthrax, despite the Pentagon's long-held insistence that the vaccine is mandatory for all service members assigned to areas of combat or probable terrorism.

The deployments by base commanders in Indiana, Kentucky, New York and Wisconsin has led Pentagon critics to question the seriousness of the anthrax threat and the fairness of penalties meted out by the armed services earlier for scores of service members nationwide who refused the vaccine.

"This is the first hint that a few courageous operational commanders are beginning to exercise judgment, and are acknowledging what Pentagon leaders will not - that the anthrax threat was simply political hype that is no longer worth losing good soldiers over," John Richardson said.

Richardson is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and Gulf War veteran who has been a leaders nationwide in seeking an end to the anthrax program.

"The questions raised are, number one, is the vaccine really necessary; and, number two, whether the harsh penalties against the dissenters was really fair," said state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who conceded the military has broad discretion in decisions over whether to punish service members. Several years ago, Blumenthal called for a suspension of the vaccine program.

The program to vaccinate all 2.4 million service members, which started in 1998, has been embroiled in controversy since former Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered it.

The vaccine was initially licensed in 1970 for human skin contact with infected animals, not for use against manufactured anthrax spores fired or sprayed to disable and kill when breathed. The vaccine's reported adverse reaction rate has jumped from 0.2 percent to 5 to 35 percent since its wider use by the military.

"Unfortunately, other commanders are still willing to court-martial and dishonorably discharge [those who refuse the vaccine] rather than risk their next [command] promotion," Richardson said. He and others challenging the vaccine argue it has been proven unsafe and illegal.

Three of the four soldiers were charged between December and January with disobeying a direct order to take the vaccine, but the Army dropped its prosecution in favor of deploying them. The fourth was charged over a year ago before he was sent to Iraq. Decisions to drop the prosecution in favor of deploying them were made by the soldiers' unit commanders in conjuction with higher command headquarters.

One of the four deployed soldiers, an Ohio National Guardsman, had been court martialed for refusing the order to take the vaccine, but his 40 days in the stockade, drop in rank and dishonorable discharge have been put on hold while he serves in Iraq as a public affairs specialist.

Spec. Kurt Hickman got a reprieve earlier this year after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., temporarily barred the military from continuing any anthrax vaccinations. Hickman's penalty was put on hold and he was reassigned to Camp Atterbury in Indiana, where he once again was ordered to take the vaccine. He refused, and again was charged with a refusal to obey a direct order. But, said Ohio National Guard spokesman James Sims, the Camp Atterbury commander, Lt. Col. Kenneth D. Newlin intervened and the charge was dropped.

Newlin allowed Hickman, a videographer, to be sent to Iraq with the 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, part of the First Army.

Maj. Michael Brady, a spokesman for Camp Atterbury, said commanders now "are looking at this [anthrax vaccination situation] on a case by case basis."

Three other servicemen, one assigned to Fort Drum in New York, another to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and the third to another First Army unit at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin were also charged with insubordination for refusing the vaccine. In each case, the charge was deferred indefinitely and the soldier was ordered to Iraq.

One of those, Sgt. Richard Norris, an eight-year Army veteran with the 101st, has already returned from a year's service in Iraq.

"I was refusing because of all the research I've done that it [the vaccine] wasn't safe and it wasn't legal," Norris said. "I told them I didn't want to avoid service overseas. They said, OK, you can be deployed. ... Now I'm pretty frustrated with it, because since I refused the shot, I've been pending punishment, and I haven't been able to go up in rank."

It could not be determined how many other service members who have refused the vaccine have also been ordered to Iraq.

James Turner, a Pentagon spokesman, said the defense department collects data only on those service members who refuse to take the vaccine and are either disciplined and removed from the service, or resign to avoid the drug. Those figures, say service members challenging the vaccine, have been minimized by officials bent on hiding the problem

Asked why these particular service members were not prosecuted or punished and scores of others were, Turner replied: "Military discipline is a matter for the appropriate command. It would be totally inappropriate for me to comment on these matters. I recommend that you address your questions to the appropriate military departments."

February 12, 2004

Virus in smallpox inoculation spreads

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An armed services member who was vaccinated against smallpox passed the vaccine virus on to his wife, who then passed it to their baby during breast-feeding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, marking the first time on record that the vaccine has caused problems in two generations of contacts.

All three have recovered, the agency said.

The agency disclosed the May 2003 case in an update on the Department of Defense campaign to protect members of the armed services against smallpox infection in case the disease is used as a weapon.

Smallpox was eradicated from the globe in 1979. The last U.S. case occurred in 1949; vaccination against the disease ended in the United States in 1972, in part because of the number of reactions and illnesses caused by the vaccination.

The vaccine produces immunity by infecting the recipient with a live virus, vaccinia, which is from the same family as smallpox but causes much less serious disease. In rare cases — approximately two to six per 100,000 vaccinations — the virus can spread from the vaccinated person to his or her intimate contacts.

So far, the agency said, 578,286 military personnel have been vaccinated against the disease since December 2002; 28 adults and two children developed uncomplicated illnesses after contact with a vaccinated person. Twenty of the adults were spouses or had intimate contact with the military member; the rest were friends.

In the baby's case, which occurred in Alaska, the serviceman's wife developed small breast sores two weeks after his vaccination. She was initially diagnosed with mastitis. After the baby developed small blisterlike lesions on the lip and cheek, the two were re-examined at a military referral hospital and diagnosed with vaccinia. The lesions healed and neither mother nor baby required further treatment.

The wife had been careful to avoid contact with the vaccination site on her husband's arm, but may have been infected by contact with towels or bed linen, the CDC said.

In a separate case in July, the agency added, a service member who recently had been vaccinated was wrestling at a military gym with another service member when the bandage covering his vaccination lesion came off. The wrestling partner, plus a third service member with whom the second one wrestled, developed face, neck and arm lesions six days later. All three recovered.

February 10, 2004

Soldier sent to Iraq without shots

Sherri Williams

A charge against Spc. Kurt Hickman, who refused the anthrax vaccine, was dropped when he left for Iraq. An Ohio National Guardsman who was charged twice for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine — and once convicted in a court-martial — has been deployed to Iraq without having the shots required by the Defense Department.

On Saturday, Spc. Kurt Hickman, 20, of Granville, left Indianapolis for Iraq with the Army’s 196 th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. The Defense Department requires troops going to high-risk areas for more than 15 days to be vaccinated to protect them against potential biological weapons.

In Ohio, Hickman was convicted Dec. 13 of disobeying a lawful order for refusing the inoculation. He faced a second charge last month after repeating his refusal at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Ind. But that charge was dropped the day he departed with his unit, said Maj. Michael Brady, spokesman for Camp Atterbury.

Hickman, a sophomore journalism major at Ohio University, rejected the anthrax vaccine because he thinks it might be hazardous to his health. Everyone else in his unit was vaccinated.

O’Brien, Hickman’s commanding officer during both incidents, filed both charges. Brady said he didn’t know why O’Brien dropped the second charge.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge made the final decision to allow Hickman to be deployed.

"This is a disciplinary issue and handled by commanders, and they are given latitude," said James Turner, spokesman for the Defense Department.

Kenneth Levine, Hickman’s attorney, said his client is happy to serve his country. But Hickman is nervous that he could be asked to take the vaccine while in Iraq.

"He always wanted to serve, and the only thing that was stopping him was the anthrax issue," Levine said. "I’m hoping this will move toward it being a voluntary thing rather than a mandatory thing."

If Hickman refuses the vaccine again, he could face a new charge of disobeying a lawful order.

Brady said he does not know if Hickman will be asked to be inoculated in Iraq. For the next year, Hickman’s unit will report on events in Iraq for the Army and escort civilian journalists throughout the region.

Turner said there have been exceptions to the Defense Department’s mandatory vaccination program, including ones involving medical conditions. In those cases, antibiotics and protective gear have been used.

Hickman’s position has been based on personal research. At Hickman’s court-martial in Columbus, Levine introduced government studies and newspaper articles questioning the vaccine’s safety.

After being convicted, Hickman was sentenced to 40 days in jail and given a demotion and a bad-conduct discharge. That sentence has not been imposed because Ohio National Guard officers are still reviewing it, spokesman James Sims said.

They will modify, accept or reject it when he returns from active duty next year, Sims said.

On Jan. 6, Hickman was allowed to join his unit in Indiana to prepare for deployment. Also, the vaccination program was temporarily suspended because of a federal classaction lawsuit that involved the safety of the vaccine for inhalation anthrax.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Emmit Sullivan allowed vaccinations to resume; the six people involved in the suit were excluded. Hickman was not involved in the lawsuit.

More than 900,000 members of the armed forces, including at least 2,700 Ohio National Guard members, have had the anthrax vaccine since 1999.