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Chronic fatigue linked to a virus; it's not a psychosomatic disease

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XMRV, a retrovirus possibly linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
is there a new hope?  (photo wikimedia commons)

XMRV, a retrovirus, has been linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  This is a great breakthrough for those who suffer from and those who study Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  A study showed that 67% of those suffering with CFS had the virus compared to only 4% of those tested without CFS.  While this has not proven it is the cause of CFS it is a great breakthrough in research that will help to find ways to treat and possibly prevent CFS. 

So many people who have suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have been told by doctors that their tests show nothing wrong and that they have a psychosomatic disease.  This new find could offer not only physical relief for those who suffer but also emotional and mental relief.  In a disease that causes symptoms that, in the past, were hard to show a cause for many people have been made to feel that if they had more will power or more character they could make themselves get better.  Those kinds of outside pressure can lead to depression and other mental complications for someone whose immune system has already been compromised.  This new find will offer hope to so many. 

The Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro Immune Disease is where the study was done.  BBC News reported, "Dr Judy Mikovits, who led the study, said: 'It's a blood borne pathogen that we contract through body fluids and blood transmission.

'The symptoms of ME - chronic fatigue, immune deficiencies, chronic infections - are what we see with retroviruses.

'This discovery could be a major step in the discovery of vital treatment options for millions of patients.' (read more)" 

According to yesterday's report from the National Institute of Health (NIH) "The virus, XMRV, was first identified by Robert H. Silverman, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, in men who had a specific immune system defect that reduced their ability to fight viral infections.

'The discovery of XMRV in two major diseases, prostate cancer and now chronic fatigue syndrome, is very exciting. If cause-and-effect is established, there would be a new opportunity for prevention and treatment of these diseases,' said Silverman, a co-author on the CFS paper. (read more)"

XMRV, a retrovirus is not an airborne virus which is good news.  It is important that people recognize this so that there is not more negative stigma associated with CFS. 

The medical director of WPI (Whittemore Peterson Institute), Dan Peterson, feels this find will offer hope to those who suffer from CFS.  He is quoted by NIH as saying, "Patients with CFS deal with a myriad of health issues as their quality of life declines. I'm excited about the possibility of providing patients, who are positive for XMRV, a definitive diagnosis, and hopefully very soon, a range of effective treatments options."

Comments

  • Cassandra Yorgey 5 years ago

    Great article, but I have some quessies...

    "67% of those suffering with CFS had the virus compared to only 4% of those tested without CFS" that only accounts for 71%, what about the other 29% ?

    "The symptoms of ME - chronic fatigue, immune deficiencies, chronic infections - are what we see with retroviruses." What is ME?

    Also, I've heard that CFS is linked to the Ebbstein-Barr Virus , how does that correspond to these new discoveries?

  • Ren 5 years ago

    Cassandra: 67% vs 4% is statistically significant and impressive. It doesn't mean that the other 33% did not have the virus. It just wasn't detected. And I'm sure Mary Ann meant "MS, multiple sclerosis", just like you meant Epstein-Barr Virus. We're all guilty of typing too fast for our own good.

  • Cassandra Yorgey 5 years ago

    Great article, but I have some quessies...

    "67% of those suffering with CFS had the virus compared to only 4% of those tested without CFS" that only accounts for 71%, what about the other 29% ?

    "The symptoms of ME - chronic fatigue, immune deficiencies, chronic infections - are what we see with retroviruses." What is ME?

    Also, I've heard that CFS is linked to the Ebbstein-Barr Virus , how does that correspond to these new discoveries?

  • Cassandra Yorgey 5 years ago

    Ren, thank you for chiming in, although you didn't *actually* answer any of my questions...

    I didn't imply the study was insignificant, however if 67% of the people tested have it, and 4% don't, there is still like 29% that is *unnaccounted for*, right? but I'm rotten at maths, so I just don't know.

    Also, MS is not a retrovirus. It is suspected to be an autoimmune disease and while it may share fatigue as a symptom with CFS, they are not the same thing and it would not make sense to me to compare them because the main symptoms with MS are nuerological - such as muscle spasms, ataxia, difficulty with speech and vision, etc. The fatigue is generally considered a secondary symptom, as opposesd to CFS where it is the main sypmotom. If I had thought Mary Ann guilty of a typo, I would not be so rude as to point out publicly ;) As for my own misspelling, I can only hope Anthony Epstein will be gracious enough to fogive me.

  • Mary Ann 5 years ago

    Cassandra, thanks for your comments. The ME is taken from a direct quote, it is another name for CSF it stands for myalgic encephalopathy.

  • Cassandra Yorgey 5 years ago

    Oh no, why are my comments showing up a million times?

  • Claire 5 years ago

    Cassandra,

    There are two groups, those with CFS and those without CFS, and the 67% and 4% are in different groups and can't be added together.

    It's 67% of people with CFS in the study have the virus and 33% of people with CFS in the study did not have the virus.

    4% of people without CFS in the study have the virus and 96% of people without CFS in the study do not have the virus.

    Hope that helps make it clear.

    You are right that there is a portion "unaccounted" but it's 33% of people with CFS who don't have the virus. Some of the articles do mention that the researchers found a higher percentage in the 90s of people with CFS who had antibodies to the virus but not the actual virus detectable.

    There's another study soon to be published that will add more to the link with EBV and other herpes viruses. That could account for some of these "unaccounted" or they could also overlap. The viruses can interact with each other.

  • Sam 5 years ago

    I dont want to be gloomy, but I am not so sure this important finding will help treating CFS/ME. There are several diseases complicated by fatigue, e.g. cancer, and still we dont know how to reduce it significantly. Even when the cause is very obvious, e.g. chemotherapy, we dont know what to do. We need more research on the physiological and pathophysiological causes of fatigue in CFS/ME and other diseases. Knowing that a virus MAY have caused it is of little help.