Research underway to determine extent of military link to MS; cover-ups

A national organization is interested in finding out if Utah's high rate of multiple sclerosis is in any way linked to decades of Army testing of germ, nerve gas and radiological weapons.  Researchers for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society are in the beginning stages of trying to answer the question. Nevertheless, they acknowledge that studies may take years and that shaky finances might prevent completion.

Dr. Mathilde Solowey, a volunteer epidemiologist at the New York City headquarters of the MS Society, said Utah is one of several places nationally that is collecting data on whether MS a disease of the nervous system possibly connected to viral infections, might be tied to environmental causes. Solowey told the Deseret News in a copyright news report that the group is currently collecting names of Utahans with MS, when they were diagnosed, where they lived and what substances to which they may have been exposed. "It may allow a future researcher to uncover a causative agent," she said.

Joyce Stromberg, a Tooele resident who says, her daughter was among the youngest people ever diagnosed with MS at age 15, is a volunteer project coordinator with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stromberg is involved in gathering data about residents of Tooele County --- where many Army tests were conducted at Dugway Proving Grounds, who have the disease. "A study by the University of Utah found the rate of MS in Tooele County is seven times higher than the national average," she said. "The oversell rate for Utah is twice the national average".

The neurologist at the University who Stromberg credits with discovering those high rates declined several interview requests. Stromberg said she can't help but think the military testing is somehow related to the high incidence of MS. "I have questions about why all this is happening here. Obviously, the fact those tests happened here makes you wonder," she said. Recent reports show that 328 open-air germ warfare tests are known to have occurred at Dugway, 1,174 open-air tests of chemical arms, mostly nerve gas and 74 tests of arms that spread radioactive particles to the wind.