At least 38 soldiers who were part of a Middle East deployment have been diagnosed with constructive bronchiolitis, which is rarely found in healthy young people, possibly resulting in an increased amount of soldiers' life insurance claims, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The untreatable disease interferes with the infected individuals' ability to do physical exercise which may have happened when they inhaled toxic material. So far 38 soldiers have been diagnosed, but there is no way of knowing how many more may be in the future.
Doctors believe the exposure may have happened when the soldiers were exposed to a sulfur-mine fire near Mosul, Iraq. This may have led the infected individuals to inhale a strong dose of sulfur dioxide which has been known to cause this disease.
Eighty soldiers were tested between 2004 and 2009 because they had shown signs of exertional dyspnea upon their return home. Fort-nine of those tested also underwent a video-assisted thoracoscopic lung biopsy, pulmonary and cardiac function testing and high-resolution CT imaging.
The soldiers' average ages were between 33 and 35 and they were all men. Only 13 had reported themselves as smokers, and only seven were still smokers.