June 1, 2006

Survey seeks to solve Sept 11 health mysteries

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Health officials launched a broad
medical survey on Thursday of 71,000 people affected by the
September 11 attacks in what doctors called their best hope of
treating mysterious ailments stemming from that day.

The survey of firefighters, police, downtown Manhattan
residents and office workers will determine future federal
health policy and funding for those affected, U.S. and New York
City officials said in announcing the survey.

Many emergency responders and downtown residents still
suffer from what has been dubbed "World Trade Center cough,"
and a medical examiner has linked the recent death of a police
detective to the attacks.

More than 71,000 people signed up for an initial survey in
2003 and 2004. The new survey is the first of several
follow-ups planned for the 20-year life of the federally funded

People were exposed to smoke, dust, fumes and debris that
were unique to the hijacked jetliner attacks on New York's
World Trade Center.

"Today, we wish we had all of the answers. ... We don't
know how long those symptoms are going to exist and what the
best way to treat them and improve them is," New York City
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden told a news conference,
adding that high participation in the survey would be one of
the best ways to get that information.

Eight percent of those from the first survey showed serious
psychological distress, health officials said, compared with 5
percent in New York City as a whole and 14 percent for people
who were in buildings that collapsed or were destroyed.

Two-thirds of the volunteers for the survey are from New
York City but, they come from all 50 states and more than a
dozen countries, officials said.

Preliminary results are expected by the end of 2006.