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U.S. Vietnam War Soldiers and Malaria

6/12/2006 • Vietnam

When Jim Manuel talks about his life after Vietnam he seems at peace with himself, like a man looking back with new insight. Most of the problems he’s experienced mirror those of the approximately 480,000 other Vietnam theater veterans who, according to the estimates of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What is different, however, is that Manuel is one of only a handful of veterans to receive enhanced therapy that he claims has dramatically improved his life and, perhaps most important, provided him and his family with an explanation for the changes that occurred in him in the years following his service.

His turning point came one day in the mid-1980s, when he went to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for his usual PTSD counseling. He was finding the counseling sessions helpful, but years of introspection had left him with many unanswered questions. When he saw a notice on a hallway bulletin board that day, the word ‘malaria’ caught his eye.

For years after his return from Vietnam, Manuel had believed that guilt was the root of his nightmares, his frustration and his uncontrollable temper — things that strained his personal relationships, clouded his judgment and plunged him into periods of heavy drinking and unemployment. But guilt could not explain everything.

During the first year home, he had many incidents of uncontrollable shaking, fever and chills that led to hospitalization on several occasions. He remembers how during one of these he awoke to find himself in a tub of ice in a hospital emergency room. His doctors had worked to get his fever down, but never determined its cause. Now that he was safely back in the States, it never occurred to him to mention to them the bouts of malaria he had suffered in Vietnam. The threat from that tropical disease, he thought, was thousands of miles behind him.

So when Manuel learned that Iowa City psychologist Nils Varney was recruiting volunteers for a study on veterans who had contracted malaria in Vietnam, he was intrigued. A few days later he went to see Dr. Varney, who referred him to a neurologist. Testing by the neurologist revealed a 30-point drop in his IQ from his military induction exam and an abnormal electroencephalograph (EEG). To his surprise, and eventual relief, Manuel learned that his problems might have resulted from the type of malaria he had contracted in Vietnam. ‘It changed my life,’ he says, describing his first meeting with Dr. Varney and the treatment he would subsequently receive. Manuel is now a volunteer who counsels other veterans at the Cedar Rapids Veterans Center and educates them about the long-term consequences of cerebral malaria infection.

Malaria is the general name of a tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. Its onset is indicated by a high fever, anemia and severe flulike symptoms, such as shivering, joint pain and headaches. If not properly treated, it can lead to organ failure and death. There are four kinds of malaria that affect humans, each characterized by a different species of the Plasmodium parasite.

When a person is bitten by a mosquito bearing Plasmodium, the parasite is injected into the bloodstream, where it lives out its life cycle in red blood cells and concentrates in the vital organs, principally the liver. Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum or falciparum malaria) is the predominant type of malaria worldwide and likely accounted for 90 percent of malaria illnesses reported in Vietnam. It is also the most feared, because it primarily affects the brain. At its most severe, it can become cerebral malaria, a complication that develops when infected blood cells stop circulating as they reach the brain and bind to the inner walls of the blood vessels carrying them. The resulting obstruction of blood flow is traumatic, depriving the brain of oxygen, causing hemorrhaging and producing severe psychiatric symptoms.

Telltale signs of cerebral malaria infection appear in an autopsy as discolored brain tissue and small ‘pinhole’ lesions. However, medically confirming cerebral malaria in a living patient is not as straightforward. A blood test will detect the P. falciparum parasite, but cerebral malaria can only be diagnosed when psychiatric symptoms are observed that indicate the infection has reached the brain.

Dr. Varney, who is currently a staff neuropsychologist at the Iowa City VA Medical Center and professor of psychology at the University of Iowa School of Medicine, has spent more than 15 years studying veterans who contracted malaria in Vietnam. He described the general progression of the illness that produces cerebral malaria as follows: ‘[Falciparum malaria] patients get sick as hell for 12 days, and then it goes to the brain. At this point, they usually become mortally ill because they have a fever of 104 degrees or more. Cerebral malaria is pretty obvious because they are hallucinating, confused, have amnesia and a whole host of other psychiatric and neuropsychiatric symptoms. They will die if they are not put into alcohol ice baths.’ A combination of anti-malarial drugs is available that effectively kills the parasite and relieves symptoms of the illness; however, P. falciparum is highly resistant to treatment, requiring frequent changes to the drug regimen.

One study of cerebral malaria patients who were treated at an evacuation hospital in Vietnam during the war concluded that cerebral malaria causes no permanent psychiatric harm. But Dr. Varney’s more recent research on aging Vietnam veterans challenges this view. His findings have taken him to Capitol Hill with the message that many veterans exhibiting symptoms of PTSD may actually be suffering long-term effects of cerebral malaria infection, and might benefit from improved treatments incorporating anti-convulsant medications like Tegretol and Depakote.

Figures for the total number of malaria cases treated in Army hospitals during the Vietnam War were unavailable from the Department of the Army. Furthermore, a written response dated August 16, 1999, from Charles H. Bowers, chief of the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act office in Houston, Texas, stated, ‘…we can not provide counts for cerebral malaria since cerebral malaria is not separately identified in the diagnosis coding scheme.’

Manuel knew about the risks of malaria, but he had never heard the term ‘cerebral malaria’ until he met Dr. Varney. Manuel was 19 when he volunteered for military service in November 1965. Ten months later, he found himself deep in the Central Highlands of Vietnam near the Cambodian border, one of 158 men in an Army infantry company. Between October 1966 and September 1967 he estimated his company lost 25 to 30 men — 11 of them in one day.

‘Staying alive was the biggest job over there, and not just because there were bullets and everything, but basic survival because the physical exertion was enormous. Plus you had to overcome the heat,’ Manuel recalled. ‘There were just always millions of mosquitoes everywhere. They gave us a little plastic container of repellent that, as God is my witness, was mosquito food! That stuff was worthless — we used it to start fires.’

Besides adding to the general discomfort of living in the tropics, mosquito bites also spread malaria from one infected person to another. Falling ill meant evacuation to the nearest field hospital. This was a constant concern. ‘We were always undermanned,’ Manuel said,’so if something happened to you and you needed to get medevaced out of there, there was no one to take your place — it hurt the mission.’

Official and anecdotal evidence suggests that the anti-malarial pills distributed as a precaution may not have been worth much more than the insect repellent. Manuel was stricken with the disease twice. He recalled it was the responsibility of his platoon sergeant to make sure everyone in his unit was taking the pills. Even so, he said, ‘Evidently the pills didn’t work for everybody, because I remember other guys taking them but still getting sick.’ In fact, a report from MACV indicated that 7,832 military personnel in Vietnam were treated for malaria in 1966.

As recently as July 1996, the American Forces Press Service, in an article on malaria vaccine research, quoted Dr. Stephen L. Hoffman, a Navy doctor and director of the malaria program at the Naval Medical Research Institute in Rockville, Md., as saying, ‘In every military campaign this century, we lost more casualties to malaria than bullets. During World War II and the Vietnam War entire divisions ceased to be effective combat units due to malaria.’

Cerebral malaria patients were studied at the height of the Vietnam War. In 1968, an article titled ‘Psychological Testing of Cerebral Malaria Patients’ was published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, with Dr. Albert J. Kastl as the lead author. The article described how, over a 10-month period in 1966, Dr. Kastl and other members of the 935th Medical Detachment working at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh measured the intellectual functioning of nine cerebral malaria patients. The patients were tested just after the peak of their illnesses, after their fevers had remitted and the worst of their symptoms had passed, and then again seven days later, after their symptoms had fully abated. A comparison of the scores showed that, while ill, the cerebral malaria patients exhibited a degree of impairment, suggesting organic brain damage that was not present in a comparison group of patients who had falciparum malaria without cerebral involvement. When retested after their ‘recoveries,’ however, the scores of patients in both groups improved to normal levels, leading Dr. Kastl to conclude that, with proper treatment, cerebral malaria patients fully recover from their illness with no lasting neurological or psychiatric problems.

This study marked the first time that any-one had ever tested cerebral malaria patients with psychological instruments; however, Dr. Varney believes that it should not be the final word. He argues that Dr. Kastl tested his patients too soon after their apparent recoveries for any long-term problems to show. He also believes that the initial brain damage caused by cerebral malaria, visible in autopsies and suggested by the lower test scores of Dr. Kastl’s patients while they were ill, starts a progressive syndrome of neurological changes, producing psychiatric problems that develop over time.

Dr. Varney noted that his interest in the long-term consequences of cerebral malaria infection began with a particularly difficult case. ‘I had a patient 15 years ago who was demented,’ he explained. ‘I couldn’t find anything wrong with him, but his wife was a nurse and she mentioned that he had malaria in Vietnam. So I got a book out on tropical disease, started reading and thought, Eureka!’

After three years of reviewing historical and contemporary medical texts on tropical disease — as well as consulting with experts in Thailand, where cerebral malaria has always been a public health concern — Dr. Varney sought grant money to study Vietnam veterans with a history of malaria. He won joint funding from the VA and the Iowa Chapter of the American Legion. When he solicited volunteers from among veterans using the services of the Iowa City VA hospital to participate in his study, he found 30 who reported having had malaria in Vietnam with additional symptoms, including amnesia, convulsions and blurred or temporary loss of vi-sion, suggesting cerebral malaria. Asked to describe what their lives have been like in the years since Vietnam, all of them reported episodes of uncontrollable and irrational anger and problems maintaining employment. The majority had been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, including depression, PTSD, bipolar affective disorder, antisocial personality and borderline personality. Most reported at least one year of heavy alcohol or marijuana use, and 22 recalled having suicidal thoughts. Only five were still married to their first wives, and 11 had histories of domestic violence. In psychological tests, the patients exhibited mental status abnormalities, including poor memory function. The results of that study were published in VA Practitioner in 1989.

Dr. Varney followed up with a second study, also funded by the VA, in which he compared the performance on a battery of neuropsychological tests of 40 Vietnam veterans, identified as cerebral malaria survivors, to that of 40 Vietnam veterans who were treated for combat injuries but who had never had malaria. He found further evidence that cerebral malaria survivors exhibit symptoms such as depression, personality change, feelings of subjective distress, impaired memory, emotional instability and seizures that were still problematic 15 to 20 years after the malaria illness had been treated. In 1997 the results of his second study were published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease.

Dr. Varney’s findings have pitted him against the VA and the Department of Defense, which lead the world in malaria vaccine research. Both of these organizations support the view that cerebral malaria survivors experience no long-term impairments from their infection. According to the Veterans Benefits Administration, only three claims for disabilities resulting from cerebral malaria have been processed since the end of the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, on July 16, 1998, a House Subcommittee on Veterans Benefits convened a hearing to investigate ‘the possibility that veterans judged to be suffering from PTSD may actually be exhibiting the effects of cerebral malaria.’ Dr. Varney was invited to provide expert testimony by Congressman Lane Evans (D., Ill.). A transcript of the hearing reveals that Dr. Varney’s statement was generally well received by the committee members but not by officials from the VA. They had their own expert, Dr. John Booss, the VA’s national director of neurology, who criticized Dr. Varney’s methods and played down the significance of his findings. Dr. Booss’ criticism centered primarily on the fact that Varney lacked medical documentation that his study participants specifically had cerebral malaria.

‘As any war veteran can tell you, the field of combat is not an ideal place for keeping scrupulous medical records,’ said Varney. He found records confirming malaria with symptoms indicating cerebral involvement for only two-thirds of his subjects; however, he is careful to point out that this was the same degree of confirmation he achieved for his subjects who reported gunshot wounds. Apparently, claims in progress, lost records and records destroyed in a fire at the complex in the 1970s limited the number of service records he was able to access from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

Dr. Varney speculates that there may be another reason why there are so few cases of cerebral malaria on record from Vietnam. He suspects that most patients who had either cerebral malaria or falciparum malaria that was unresponsive to medication (leaving them vulnerable to a cerebral infection) were rushed from the battlefield to more modern hospitals in cities like Seoul; therefore, most records noting cerebral malaria were kept outside the military.

Dr. Booss urged caution in implementing any policy to compensate cerebral malaria survivors. ‘What we suggest,’ he stated, ‘is that an assessment of Dr. Varney’s work reveals some methodological and interpre-tational problems that should be carefully considered before we make decisions that change health benefits policy.’

‘The hearing went absolutely nowhere,’ says Dr. Varney. He believes that the long-term effects of cerebral malaria may exacerbate the symptoms of PTSD and other neuro-psychiatric problems, and that most cerebral malaria survivors are probably already receiving compensation for PTSD. ‘Treatment is cheap. I don’t think that getting more compensation is the issue, I think that getting more treatment is the issue.’ And he believes the VA could learn a great deal about treating the short- and long-term symptoms of cerebral malaria from countries where it is a daily fact of life. According to Dr. Varney, there are four classic symptoms that suggest that a veteran with a history of malaria had cerebral malaria: depression, intense irritability, severe forgetfulness and trouble sleeping. The first step should be an exam by a psychiatrist and a neurologist. He advises veterans to inform their physicians if they have ever been ill with malaria. He’s found that veterans who fit the criteria for being cerebral malaria survivors may benefit from PTSD therapy in combination with anti-convulsants.

Manuel claims his life has improved drastically because of this enhanced treatment and also because he’s finally found an answer that makes sense to him. He believes there are many veterans with similar stories who could be helped.

Dr. Varney fears that time is running out and the VA is letting an opportunity slip by to help not only current veterans but also those who may contract cerebral malaria in the future. ‘This population of malaria-afflicted Vietnam veterans are the only malaria-afflicted population of note in the industrialized West,’ he testified in 1998. ‘When they die, this research will become historical and have no relevance to anything in particular.’

More than three years has elapsed since Dr. Varney’s testimony, and his message seems to have been ignored by the VA. Calls to the VA secretary’s office for comment on the VA’s actions since the hearing were returned by spokesperson Ken McKinnon, who stated that cerebral malaria is not presently a VA priority area. He read from a statement prepared by Dr. Booss: ‘Were a veteran with a history of falciparum malaria with or without documented acute cerebral symptoms to complain of symptoms suggesting complex partial seizures, anxiety and/or depression, careful clinical evaluation of those and appropriate therapy would be warranted. This would constitute accepted practice and standard of care in any VA hospital.’

Dr. Varney believes VA clinicians should take a more proactive role. In order for the VA to stand any chance of helping veterans who suffer long-term problems due to cerebral malaria, he says, ‘The first thing we need to do is ask them if they ever had malaria. Nobody’s doing that.’

This article was written by Steven J. Lloyd and originally published in the June 2002 issue of Vietnam Magazine.

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42 Responses to U.S. Vietnam War Soldiers and Malaria

  1. Lanny Alan Roedel says:

    I was on Operation Dewey Canyon, with 2/9 Fox,sometime before the 56 day op ended I got falsiprum malaria,I had uncontollable diaria,sleepy,couldn’t think,high fever,dehidrated,anemic,couldn’t eat or drink. I passed out starting up the next to the last hill where we were to be lifted out,they thought I had heat strokeso they put salt in a half canten of water I had,then took my food,water,all my ammo except one mag in my 16. took gernads,law,gun ammo,told me they would tell someone where I was,they said there were troops on the hill and if I didn’t make it up there they would come get me.THEY TOLD NOBODY ABOUT !!!!! I went in and out of contiousness and stuggle when I would wake to pull my p.liner out of my pack to protect my face from the sun. I couldn’t get free from my pack. Before they left me I ask one to turn me around a little so I could see down the trail and watch for gooks. A long time later,I woke to movement,I could not move my m16 in the direction of the sound. An american spead the grass apart,staired and said,where in the Hell did you come from,I don’t think I could answere,not sure,then somehow I woke on top of the hill,I was mad,why did you take so long to get me? He said,we didn’t know you were there,we seen movement in the same place sevral time and didn’t want to shoot and give away our position. I ask if my bunch came up on this hill,they said some Marines came thru a long time ago,but they never even said hi.I said they told someone up here,they said we are the only two here,and now you. Towards night a copper came in and took me out,we stoped at cunningham then went to charley med.Then on to thrid med,long story short,I had a higher fever,more malaria in my blood,and had it longer,and was in worse shape than they had seen,they thought there was no way I would live,I wieghed under 115 lbs, I think me being mad let me live,I just wanted to see the looks on there faces when I retuned,I’m sure we were in Laos,the looks was worth it and this secret has eat me alive for 40years. I suffer brain damage I know but no way to prove it. My insides suffered damage too,which they blame on something else, I was turned away from help when I came home so have had a destroyed life.One and a half years ago I went back to VA,and they tryed to trun me away again,I started to leave and a guy said welcome home,that was the first time I heard that,I turned around and got the nerve to make them listen,they took me to a women that talk to me,then she said you mean you are a combat vet and I said yes.She called someone and said he is a combat vet,what are you people doing.then they started to help,They said I have PTSD,maybe so,but the malaria or agent orange got me to. My mind or body hasn’t worked right since that operation,but I can’t afford to prove it,they said I was 50%,I think when they know your mind don’t works so good,your poor and can’t do anything about it,and they are right.Thanks for letting me vent,Simper Fi

  2. John Bellinghausen says:

    My father returned home from wwII with some type of disease that for over 60 years has caused him to be severly ill every 45 days with Malaria type symptoms,which up until the last year lasted approximately 3 days each time. Now that he is 83 years old, the problem is lasting longer and longer, sometimes up to 7 days, causing him to be very weak aterwards for another week.
    Several time over the last 30 years, he has been studied by doctors in Houston, Abeline, and Wichita Falls, TX hospitals trying to figure what is causing this, all to no avail. Doctors have seen him during these episodes and still have no idea what it is or what causes it.
    He served in Okinawa, Japan during the war.
    We would like to find out what this is as it is causing my father’s health to go downhill really fast. If anyone else has the same symptoms or problems, we would like to be in touch with them to see if there is anything we can do.

  3. Ricky Arnold says:

    When I arrived at the 6th Convalescent Center, I was really sick, the chloroquine-Primaquine combo for prophylaxis was a bear-Monday was malaria day-I would often keep within close distance to a latrine or my entrenching tool. I would acquire Plasmodiun Malarieae falciparum.
    There were 1000 people in that hospital as sick as can be.

    I spent some time in a quonset hut on IV quinine and responded very quickly. I was transferredto a hooch we aremost familiar with, and ordered too take oral quinine as big brown tablets (I will never, ever forget that), within a week I was back in the quonset with a relapse.

    What I have not revealed is I was a draftee, and a registered pharmacist prior to being drafted. I knew what was going on.

    You also need to know that the military had an SOP when someone was out of their unit for a prolonged period.
    Although I do not remember the total numbers quite right anymore, if you were lost to your unit for 21 days, you needed to be peplaced. Once in country, the clock starts ticking. If you recover, you were reassigned. An FNG replaced you. Two men in country originally there instead of one!

    A very smart medical officer and I sat down and had a man to man, I presented my credentials, and listened to a proposal for a study of different dosage forms of Quinine for oral use. Was there a reason for the replace rate that was through the roof?
    We found out with permission of USARV that malaria patients who received a gelatin encapsulated quinine decreased the relapse rate profoundly. Soldiers and Marines were able to return to duty less than 21 days as a rule!
    Side effects were seen more often but generally predictable regarding quinine-ringing in the ears (tinnitus).

    The SOP was changed in August 1970 to treat malaria patients with “capsules” made of gelatin (the way we do today on most pharmaceutical products).

    There is no way of knowing how many guys never had to leave CONUS as a replacement during those following years as a result of the change. I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service for my contribution.

    Regarding types of malaria Falciparum was actually one of two possible diagnoses, Vivax was also present.
    In trying to be accurate, Vivax was more life threatening than any other.
    It is this particular type responsible for encephalitis (swelling of the brain. Plasmosis, the destruction of red blood cells would just be the beginning of a great battle.

    Today, ovale malarieae in Africa kills 1,000,000 a year and we never hear of it.
    Someday, someone will cure this disease by finding some common element of the disease and create a vaccine that will save millions world wide.

    Best regards

  4. Ricky Arnold says:

    uncompleted sentence:
    We found out with permission of USARV

    We found out through our very scientific methods and with permission of USARV published our findings in a military medical journal circulated throught southeast Asia.

  5. pat brady says:

    hello i came from nam with malaria the va gave 25 dollars a month for 1 year allot of people said this is not right. do i have any recourse in this matter i hope you e.mail me back so i can known what to do thank you pat

    • vergil maples says:

      me also, after home got malaria twice, went to v.a. hosp. in temple tx.both times. as with you v.a. dropped me .

  6. Roger says:

    I have the very same question regard malaria. I had two types. received a $40 dollar check and then it stop ….just stop. where do I go from here?

  7. Kayla Bledsoe says:


  8. Gary Davidson says:

    I am Viet Nam Vet, I contracted malaria, during my ture. I was
    in the hospital in Da Nang and the Cam Ram Lost almost 50 lbs,
    while in Da Nang I was in and out I can remember at least to
    trips to the Ice blankets. Each time with a fulery of medical staff
    trying to get my Fevor down.

    When I came back to the states, I was having sever nervousness
    and sever head aches. Periods of Jadious. Night mares chills and

    The sent me to see a mental health person who looked to be 12
    years. I talked about thing that happened in Viet Nam.
    He talked about may family life.
    I told him that my brain was not working right, thing I could do
    before I can not do now.

    The gave me some Valume and Libriam and Darvon 85. well
    there is much of the next year with a little Alcohal I do not
    remember. After several near death events I cold turkeyed and
    tried to pull my life together.

    I managed to build a wall around my emotions, this allowed me
    to control the angery out burst, the rage.
    If it were not for a patiant and loving wife I would not be here

    I have not talked to any one about these events. I have shared
    some with my wife.

    I stil suffer the dreams at night about the war, I wake 3 or 4 time
    a night check the door and windows to insure there locked.

    I always feel like pending disaster is just around the corner.

    thank you for the oppertunity to share. this is all I can do now

  9. Justin says:

    I need help on my project do you know at least 5 things the U.S solders ate during the Vietnam War?

  10. martha lamdin says:

    To John Bellinghausen and all interested,
    I am trying to find out if their is any such thing as Post-malaria syndrome. My dad is 82 and a WW2 vet who contracted Vivax Malaria in the pacific theater. Now 60 years later, after having survived non-hodgkins lymphoma, he is having a repeat of what he says are malaria symptoms several times a year also. He gets a fever, than the chills, then is weak for a few days and then better, but still not as he should be. The doctors(all of whom were not born until well after WW2), are stumped and have poo-pooed the idea of it being a remnant of the malaria. He and I are both convinced that it is. I recently read a book that there is such a thing as post-polio syndrome, as survivors begin to age they get symptoms again, especially when their immune systems are low.
    I am going to post my e-mail if anyone would like to get back to me on this, I am trying to assure my dad he is not crazy. O am trusting that only those with info relevant to my post will email me.
    Matha Lamdin

  11. Carla Killman says:

    My husband is a Viet Nam vet, had Plasmodium vivax and Falciparum malaria, VA passed it off as nothing. Now he is 61 and 2005 had a heart valve replacement, 2007 diagnosed with a basilar tip inoperable aneurysm, and 2008 diagnosed with CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) leak, which causes bad headaches, nausea, double vision, brain sagging. All symptons which appear to be related to the initial problems those two kinds of malaria present, toss in Agent Orange and you really have problems. Wow, how can these things show up 40 years later and you just begin to realize they all realate back to the malaria as the initial problem. Talk about PTSD, one Doc said he was depressed because he has an aneurysm, when you have CSF, and aneurysm is the least of your worries, of course she miss-diagnosed that one. Gee that felt good to write all that, thanks.

    • Annette E. Brown says:

      Carla… I feel you pain truly I do… everything you’ve written about is exactly what my husband has been diagnosed with, the aneurysm of the aorta, veins getting weak, hypertension, swollen heart, numbing sensations on extremities, same animal… and yes they prefer to say its mental PTSD than the fact they and their chemicals or lack there of were to blame. It’s always amazed me that they could burn down trees and people but couldn’t get rid of mosquitos.. hmm.. it’s all just too sad. I do think that now it would be advisable to go to your local congress person and have them do some letter writing or get with a local political party NOW while elections are still coming up. It’s the best time to get some personal action while they are worried about Vets & voting… I’ve done it before, give it a try.. maybe you can get your congressional rep to put forth that Malaria should be included in compensated….. you get my drift.. I’m going to do it in my area; I’m in Indiana, Monroe Co. It’s clear to any normal person that having such an attack on the brain/body is going to leave lasting, increasing effects on a human body. As you said too, Agent Orange combined in the platter makes for a man who’s not been treated well by their Government.

  12. Ronnie D. Wilson says:

    In the fall of 1971 I was a grunt medic in the quang tri province. One day while we were on stand down (in the rear called camp evans) I got real sick with a high temperature and was sent to “charlie med” where I stayed for a week with a diagnosis of “FUO”( fever of unidentafied origin). One day the doctors told me I had both falciprium and vivax malaria at the same time. I got so anemic that the nurses moved my bunck up in front of the nurses station so they cound watch me. The thought of eating made me sicker. They started giving me the quinine tablets. I lost 40 lbs in 2 months. The doctors told me to never donate blood and to never drink alchol. My deros date and ets date was the same, so they sent to home to ets. After I got home, the VA sent me a letter advising that I was going to receive 10% dissabiltity for 1 year and that if would then stop unless I had a flare up. I got sick with a termperature many times since then but did not want anything to do with the VA. I now receive 50% PTSD, 30% hearing loss, 10% ringing in my ears, 20% on a bad knee. The VA today says that the malaria was a missed diagnosis. I can’t remember anything, I lose words in middle of a sentence. I have a bad temper and would rather just be left alone. A small shack up in the woods would suit me just fine. I have never voted in my life.

    • Brad Jacobs says:

      Mr. Wilson,

      I have the same problems and attitudes as you do.
      For those who say they like to support the troops- I don’t beleive a word of it as they would have offered to take our places in that filthy hell hole.
      I hope you are trying to live the best life you can.

      All The Best

      Brad Jacobs

  13. kevin R. HAMMOND says:

    kevin interesting reading

  14. Ron Nottage says:

    I had severe case of Malaria while in Da Nang in 970 while in the US Marines I had Maklaria it was so bad they had to fly me out to the red cross ship USS Sancitary I was put into a bath tub of ice water because my temperture was 106F I was so bad i lost and couldnt even see straight. Does any body there in Da Nang have any other of the same situation happen t o them. I to was awarded 10% disability but never a dime i went to Long Beach VA hospital and file my case I never recieved an benefit and now I also am seeking other problems related to Malaria and PTSD. Does any body happen to have any ,ilitary records that sate anything of or if they had Malaria while in Da Nang 1970, I was in in 1st Division Recon battalion A company my email address is rknottage@gmail.com please contact me if you have any info Thanks

    USMC Recon man

  15. ron addington says:

    1967 spent 47 days in hospital in country with malaria. suffered with malaria, lost 30 some pounds. was not told anything about further treatment. note 17 years later diagnoised with hepotitus{ later test showed i never never has hepotitus a,b or c}. 18 years later lost spleen unknown reason enlarged at time. last year june 2009 liver trants plant michael de bakey hospital houston tx.

    if you have information to assist me in receiving financial benefits i need it. va debating that malaria lays dorment for decades, denies liver and cancer..i am 63 can not start over at this point.

    difficult to work and consentrate old business requires me to go into peoples house and collect data for large retail company.. ron addington 850 499-8040

    • Everett A. Butler says:

      Ron you need to contact me about Vietnam. I think I may be some help to you.

      • Annette E. Brown says:

        I feel you pain truly I do… everything you’ve written about is exactly what my husband has been diagnosed with, the aneurysm of the aorta, veins getting weak, hypertension, swollen heart, numbing sensations on extremities, same animal… and yes they prefer to say its mental PTSD than the fact they and their chemicals or lack there of were to blame. It’s always amazed me that they could burn down trees and people but couldn’t get rid of mosquitos.. hmm.. it’s all just too sad. I do think that now it would be advisable to go to your local congress person and have them do some letter writing or get with a local political party NOW while elections are still coming up. It’s the best time to get some personal action while they are worried about Vets & voting… I’ve done it before, give it a try.. maybe you can get your congressional rep to put forth that Malaria should be included in compensated….. you get my drift.. I’m going to do it in my area; I’m in Indiana, Monroe Co. It’s clear to any normal person that having such an attack on the brain/body is going to leave lasting, increasing effects on a human body. As you said too, Agent Orange combined in the platter makes for a man who’s not been treated well by their Government. We were sent a letter by the Pension & Comp board that stated “We do not deny your claim that you were exposed to Agent Orange; you proof is evident of that. At this time however, there are no immediate physical issues to be seen. Should this situation change, please feel free to contact us.” Now to file for the new compensatable item under Agent Orange “Personality Disorders,” and not do a whole new claim… we have to come up with that specific letter. He didn’t keep it or lost it and the VA is now making us do a Freedom of Info act thing to even get the letter. I found a DAV rep that will help; IF I can get the letter from the VA. I guess they are understaffed too. My comment point to you is that they are covering personality disorders under agent orange now… just apply!

  16. Sidney Payne says:

    I served in Nam from 67-68. Contracted Falciparum Malaria while down in the delta. I did not think at the time I would make it back home, that is the sickest I have ever been, just a feeling of weakness and no control. Spent several weeks in hospital then sent back to unit after treatment.

    After my discharge from the service my family would tell me that when I selpt at night I would sweat and scream out at night, which I do not know I did, but remember waking up in a pool of water from the sweat.

    Went to the VA several times soon after discharge for a few problems not to do with Malaria, but remember when a doctor opened my file the Malaria page must have been first because the first thing several doctors asked on differant visits was “Do you have Malaria?” My response was no, I had it in Viet Nam.

    I remember one Doctor telling me to always tell other medical personal that I had Malaria at one time since that ment I could never give blood. I was too young at the time to know what that ment.

    I have experenced many health problems since that time nothing that I thought may be from Marlaria since no one has ever told me. etc: skin tumors, skin cancer, gastric problems resulting in removral of part stomach, severe eye problems, enlarged arota, high blood pressure, stress, fatigue, etc.

    Not saying this has anything to do with my almost dying in Nam, but alot has followed me since.

    (sorry for spelling errors)

    Sidney Payne

  17. Bruce Deese says:

    My grandpa Paul Wheeler Martin was a MP soldier in the Vietnam War.And he made out alive but I have only known him for 12 years because I am 12 years old.He’s a hunter and a Decan at my Baptist Church and we go exploring and the woods I coudn’t of asked for a greater Grandpa.

  18. Qulon French says:

    I believe that my malaria is partially the cause of my copd.I am 100 percent disabled. I have also been diagnosed with authoritus of my spine. I seem to be having seizures in my toes,feet,hands,and fingers.
    I was medivaced in 1970 with malaria. I was inthe hospital at Cam-Ron Bay in vietnam. I was hospitalized again in 1972,with malaria,inPanama city Fla. Organ damage is mentioned in just about every artical that I read about Malaria,but they never go into detail.The va tested me and said that I still have malaria parisites.They say its inactive malaria. I disagree. I BROUGHT UPPER RESPRATORY PROBLEMS HOME FROM VIETNAM!

  19. jerry embry says:

    I had malaria falciparum while in Viet Nam in 1968. I was so sick for weeks that I thought I was going to die. So did the medical personnel and the chaplain. Lost 37 lbs. in 10 days and also came down with pneumonia at the same time. I had a number of problems in the first 12-15 years after my tour – psychological, emotional, mental, physical, etc. After reading this article, just now mind you, I wonder if some related issues are from me having malaria 42 years ago. I also have upper respiratory problems, and have had for decades.

    • Marina Ruprecht says:

      Hello! A friend of me is looking for Jerry Embry (born approx. 1953-1956) who was during Vietnam war in Utapan, Thailand 1972. I am not sure, you could be the right person. We have not so much information and 2 pictures of Jerry Embry only. We contacted already the US Embassy here in Germany but they could not help us. Maybe you have an idea how it possible to find the person we are looking for.Anyway, many thanks in advance for your prompt replay. Best regards, Marina

      • jerry embry says:


        I was in Vietnam in 1967-1968. I don’t think I am the Jerry Embry you are looking for, but I thought I would write anyway. I just now saw your posting on this site so I apologize for not writing sooner. Please contact me if you have any questions.

        Sincerely, Jerry

  20. rudie boulware says:

    look like the va and dod is hopeing us nam vets hurry up and die off. i served two long tours and was tdy in nam for at least 60 days 6 times. i can attest to the facts that nam changed my life and not for any of the things i cvould have acheived. i have been a very hostile , withdrawn person sinch my first tour. all of the nam baggage has caused me to have self doubt and create ways to coexist daily. man i cannot even talk about this now without going thru changes in my head. got to go but want all my fellow nam vets we must stick together , i hope thats a lesson we all managed to retain . the va sucks . dont forget to vote

  21. Charles Cauthen says:

    I served with !73rd 69-70. Came home with malaria was treated in a civilian hosp a month later. 2 months later treated for hepatitis & bleeding blisters on face, arms & legs. The VA did nothing for me. Now they have no health records of me. Currently going to VA hosp. & clinic. They will not confirm or deny any of my health problems. 60 yrs old. unemployed, broke, they want me to pay $180 for service connected treatments, really giving me a ton of s–t over filing for disability. which I don’t expect to get You are right, they want us to die and go away. Just read that 70% of all VN combat vets are dead.This is my 3rd attempt at disability from the VA. I will not give up this time.

  22. Bob Behrens says:

    I was in Nam 70-71.Medivac out of Cambodia end of May 1970 with malaria.Totally out of my head,hosted out of the jungle on a stretcher bouncing off of the trees and bamboo.Sent to a hospital somewhere,I don’t recall where,they put me in a tub of ice to get my body temp. down(damn,that felt good!)Then the idiots gave me a freaking spinal tap for some reason(damn,that didn’t feel so good).For almost three weeks I was on an IV. No real food or liquids,too weak to stand, no urine output.Finally started to snap out of it and eventually ended up down in Cam Rahn Bay. Month later return to my unit,1/7,1st Cav.Deros back to the states to Fort Campbell where I was in and out of the hospital for four months with relaps of malaria(falcip? and vivax?)They said I had it in my blood stream and skin tissue. No relapes since,BUT,now I have kidney disease,and no acknowledgement that it’s malaria related.Had an ultra sound of the kidneys and other organs today,now am waiting for them to contact me and let me know of the results.Ever hear of the game,”hurry up an wait” ?Yeah.I’m not looking for disability compensation,just treatment.However,the misses thinks I’m owed it.Having been exposed to agent orange and all,I think we have all been put through the grinder and deserve better than what we are getting.I feel sorry for our boys in Afganistan and those before them. They too are not getting help that they deserve. God Bless guys.

  23. Dan Wegiel says:

    Fellow Vets,
    While serving in Nam back in 1967 I contacted Malaria, don’t have a clue which type, they just gave me a couple bottles of chlroquine-primaquine with refills when needed and said to take a drink every time I started feeling bad, I was buzzed for 8 weeks, honestly don’t remember a lot. Didn’t tell my family that I had Malaria because my mother was a worry wart, just told them I had pneumonia. Not positive if its related, but in 1988 out of the blue I started feeling terrible very quickly, like someone came up and hit me behind my knees, headaches, fever, nausea and jaundiced, went to my family Doc, he took one look at me and sent me to the hospital where they had a very hard time breaking my fever, very painful, couldn’t even move my eyes, after the third day they called my family in because they didn’t think I’d make it through the night due to the high fever, but finally gave me a shot of something which broke the fever. When discharged a week or so later they wrote “FEVER OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN”. After reading through this forum I now think that this is related to malaria. Had a heart attack at age 29, quadruple bypass surgery at age 45, and several more heart related and internal problems since, in fact am scheduled to have part of my colon removed in 2 weeks. Also have experienced the uncontrolled temper, rage and violent reaction to certain chemical smells which no one has ever been able to give me a reason as to why. Just like the rest of you I was exposed over and over to Agent Orange so who knows what caused all my health issues. Glad I found this forum, at least now I don’t feel quite as crazy as before knowing there are a bunch of us Vets out there with the same problems. God Bless you all !!!
    Semper Fi ! Dan

  24. Madonna says:

    Can anyone tell me if any one you may know has applied for service connected disability for cerebal malaria?

    • Viki says:

      My cousin has been fighting the VA for 40 years trying to get some kind of help. He has cerebral malaria, but the VA won’t help or even acknowledge his illness. He was dischagred with a less than honorable discharge, so he gets nothing! He served for 2 years and all he wants is to be buried.

  25. Dennis Costa says:

    I had malaria in 1968. 6th convalescent, Cam Rahn Bay. Im looking for the name of the G.I. that was in the bed next to me that died from it.
    Any suggestions?

  26. Jerry Hallfin says:

    My first Monday morning in the Central Highlands in 1966 I was told that I had to take a malaria pill – a large pink pill. That night I woke up with extreme vomiting and at the same time extreme diarrhea. The next morning a medic had me hooked up to an IV and they poured two bags of some solution into my arm. After that trip to the medic I was fine but decided never again to take one of those malaria pills. If there’s anyone out there that knows what the name of those pills were, I’d appreciate hearing from them at jerryhmn@visi.com.

  27. Christine says:

    I am the wife of a VN vet who had malaria, agent orange, ptsd, etc. He’s retired and I’m disabled, so we spend most of the time in the same house, but little time together. I love him, but it’s getting difficult to live with him. Any suggestions how I can help him? Any suggestions on how I can help me and our marriage?

    • BJ Bausman says:

      Hi Christine, my name is Brenda, I am married to a vet with everything that your husband has. I am at my wits end! seven years together, three plus married, all was well for quite a while.
      Now if I say anything that he doesn’t agree with it is a nightmare for many days. The anger and hostility is unbearable. Sometimes I think he puts the TV on programs that are disturbing on purpose. I am also PTSD from sexual abuse and rape.
      I try my best to be understanding, you know, good wife and helper, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Lately I have noted that the more I do to alleviate his pain the lazier he is.
      Have you had any luck with anything?
      I don’t like to be a complainer, who do we ask for help?
      I hope that life is better for you now.
      I would really like to talk with you, none of my family or friends would understand.

      Thank you for listening,


  28. ed crutchfield says:

    MY name dosen’t really matter, Im trying to find out how I go about finding my mdecal records, when I left nam I didn’t have any med recards with me, I had falsip malaria while I was there, landed in the hospital in cam ron bay, without my medical recards they said they coulden’t do any thing for me. Iv’e tryed just about every thing I know of, If anyone could help it would really help me alot .if I could find the units that was staitioned in cam ron bay It would help alot, thanks for any help I could get? Ed C

  29. Susan Myers, LCSW says:

    I had a veteran ask me about anatomical/brain donation for research to study the effects of Malaria. I know where to send him locally but have no idea if/where there is any research of this kind. I would be very happy for any guidance. thanks

  30. Hope Larocque says:

    My husband spent 2 years in Vietnam, had malaria three times , both kinds, relapsed a few times after he got home. He has PTSD, Agent Orange exposure and since 2003 he has had Sleep Apnea. We just found out the reason his CPAP then BiPap didn’t work for him is that he has central sleep apnea. After reading all this, we wonder if it might be something left over from the Malaria. He was in a coma for three weeks the first time, then had the second type was not as bad and then they said he had both. In fact over the past year he has lost a lot of weight, vomits occasionally for no known reason while running a low grade fever. I doubt the VA is willing to recognize cerebral malaria but I think the veteran and his family believe it exists.

  31. Annette E. Brown says:

    Hello: My husband was in Vietnam, the Delta area during 1967; he was there for 2 tours. During his time on in country, he came down with the falciprium malaria. As I’ve been reading this article, I’m clearly seeing that he had the ‘brain’ kind of attack. Everything that is stated as a symptom he had… ice bath in alcohol, temp over 104, shacking, delusions, actually he went so long and temp didn’t come down that the nurse called for a body bag because they had too many sick…. as they were off getting the bag, somehow he was moved; out of the ice tub up onto a top bunk on the other side of the room. No one said they did anything but nonetheless, he was moved and they all freaked out. That’s an oddity but my point to this is, my husband as you also wrote has been rated with PTSD Permanent…. they’ve counseled him until there’s no logic left. As you also stated, there’s a REAL irrational aspect to all life’s triggers; like a constant rage that he just learns to manage when he ‘wants’ to. I’ve sworn at times there’s a demon in there but there’s a good man there as well. It’s hard, I’m so very interested in any info you have pertaining to long term effects of this type of malaria. As well he was exposed to Agent Orange so that’s a whole matter by itself. It’s like where do you focus to find the culprit of the problem? Now after all this he’s looking at Ischemic Heart issues and mini TIA’s (strokes) from ?? long ago, who really knows? I won’t rant on the VA too much, they do try and help most times, but this tightening of budgets has taken their ‘compassionate’ care for vets down the tubes…. again another story, first you have hep B then you don’t in 2005, but in 2014 you have it… take the shots to cure yourself now?? Damage from that on top of it all! All help would be greatly appreciated…

  32. […] FromSplit between Minnesota and New Orleans Originally Posted by Hollywood I'm guessing most just don't give a shit what you envisioned. I know I don't. Malaria isn't contagious bright boy. While not contagious, it is quickly and easily transmitted by mosquitoes – essentially an airborne virus. Kind of a neat historical look at Malaria during the Vietnam war. I'd never heard of "cerebral Malaria" before. http://historynet.wpengine.com/us-vietnam…nd-malaria.htm […]

  33. Janet Lee Clark says:

    Hello Martha…my Dad died at age 74 (17 years ago)…multiple cancers. But he was diagnosed with Cerebral Malaria years before that. I can remember so many episodes of the fevers, chills and \out of his mind\ with some sort of un-specific pain. Once he jumped out of bed and jumped into our pool, he was burning up with fever and frankly, out of his mind…he would go from a loving, sweet & funny man…to a morose, un-interested, and sometimes almost mean man…over a period of a few days. He had at least two episodes a year for as long as i can remember. He served (5 years in the Army) in Panama during WWII, contracted malaria, was given a medical discharge. He received a bus ticket, a meal ticket, and a voucher for some clothing. He said he weighed about 100 pounds when discharged. He was NOT a big man, but 100 pounds!!! Because he loved this country, and was a true patriot, he never attempted to \get anything\ from our government. Not really sure why I’m writing, except that November 5th was the day he died, and Veteran’s Day is coming up…Good luck to your father…

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