Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Not Like Vietnam at All (Repeat)

Because Iraq really is not like Vietnam--at all:

Military doctors are fighting to contain an outbreak of a potentially deadly drug-resistant bacteria that apparently originated in the Iraqi soil. So far at least 280 people, mostly soldiers returning from the battlefield, have been infected, a number of whom contracted the illness while in U.S. military hospitals.

Most of the victims are relatively young troops who were injured by the land mines, mortars and suicide bombs that have permeated the Iraq conflict. No active-duty soldiers have died from the infections, but five extremely sick patients who were in the same hospitals as the injured soldiers have died after being infected with the bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii.

"This a very large outbreak," says Arjun Srinivasan, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. public health service and a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control.

Acinetobacter was the second most prevalent infection for soldiers in Vietnam but the military did not expect to see it as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Researchers are still working to understand where it came from and how patients were infected. (See: "Military Chases Mystery Infection.")

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