Vietnam vets report significant results of parasite study

Posted: Updated:
NORTHPORT -

Participants of a VA pilot study on Long Island say a significant number tested positive for liver-damaging parasites.

Liver fluke is a water-borne pathogen prevalent in the Vietnam region and linked to liver cancer.

Veterans are asking the government to classify the disease as a service-connected disability, but they say they're facing resistance. Their efforts led to a recent pilot study conducted at the Northport VA. The VA would not comment on the results.

John Ball served in Vietnam and showed News 12 his positive test for a liver-damaging parasite. The document stated in part, "The latter parasite does not exist in U.S. - likely exposure was in SE Asia during the veteran's service."

“So how can they tell me that [they] can't cover this?” asks Ball. “I haven’t been to Southeast Asia since 1966."

Ball said they’d heard of at least 14 positive test results.

A spokesperson at the Northport VA says the facility is the first in the country to perform such a pilot study and says that now it is encouraged to seek funding for an even larger study. But some vets say time is not on their side.

"When it does get out of dormancy and go active, it's basically a death sentence," says Hutch Dubosque, of PTSD Veterans Association of Northport.

The spokesperson for the VA says those who tested positive will be followed and treated accordingly. Rep. Lee Zeldin met with the veterans this afternoon and says he is looking to assist with any possible solutions.

VIDEO: Interview with Vietnam veteran Gerald Wiggins

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