I am deeply concerned that "Gulf War Illness Caused by Bacteria, Doctors Say" (March 9) conveys an inaccurate perception that an unsubstantiated theory is established fact. Based on comments and inquiries received by the Veterans Administration, your report seems to have needlessly frightened the general public and veterans who are suffering from conditions they attribute to service in the gulf.
The best medical evidence available finds no basis to claim that "we're sitting on top of a contagious disease," or that the nation's blood supply is somehow endangered by Gulf War veterans who give blood. The VA employs tens of thousands of health-care workers and not one physician or nurse in our medical facilities has become ill as a result of caring for Gulf War veterans. Likewise, in 1994, VA asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate unsubstantiated reports that a group of Persian Gulf veterans in Pennsylvania was suffering from an infectious disease. After a carefully designed, controlled investigation, CDC found no evidence of a contagious illness.