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'No viruses linked to CFS'


Viruses have nothing to do with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), despite earlier evidence of a link, a study has shown.

The new findings deepen the mystery surrounding the cause of debilitating condition, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Scientists dismissed previous claims that two viruses, known as XMRV and pMLV, may underlie CFS.

“The bottom line is we found no evidence of infection with XMRV and pMLV,” said Dr Ian Lipkin, a member of the research team from Columbia University in New York City.

“These results refute any correlation between these agents and disease.”

CFS can strike out of the blue - causing severe tiredness as well as muscle weakness, aches and pains, memory loss, and poor sleep.

Once dismissed as a purely psychological problem, experts now agree that it is a serious physical illness.

In 2009 and 2010, separate studies found the two viruses in the blood of CFS patients, raising hopes of identifying an easily treatable cause of the condition.

But since then, other investigators have been unable to confirm the results.

“We went ahead and set up a study to test this thing once and for all and determine whether we could find footprints of these viruses in people with chronic fatigue syndrome or in healthy controls,” said Dr Lipkin.

The research, published in the American Society for Microbiology’s online journal mBio, involved comparing 147 diagnosed patients with CFS and 146 healthy individuals.


Readers' comments (5)

  • correction here these were not all viruses as it was just XMRV and pMLV to call this all viruses is misleading

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  • correction these were not all viruses as it was only XMRV and pMLV to call this all viruses is misleading

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  • Please tell me why studying just two viruses means that 'viruses have nothing to do with chronic fatigue syndrome'?

    Surely there are huge numbers of viruses that have not been studied in connection wih this neurological illness?

    If it were found that XMRV and pMLV were not present in other illnesses, would this then mean that viruses had nothing to do with those illnesses?

    I am baffled by the headline and opening paragraph.

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  • Dr. Charles Shepherd of the ME Association has responded to the misleading idea that ME cannot be contracted by any virus by saying:

    “There is, in fact, a great deal of robust anecdotal and research evidence to demonstrate that a number of specific infections - examples include enteroviruses, dengue fever, glandular fever, hepatitis, parvovirus, Q fever, Ross River virus - trigger ME/CFS.”

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    "Press headlines stating that viruses have nothing to do with ME are

    Scientists, doctors and ME organisations are in contact with the media
    about this error because of the damage such misinformation can cause.

    The Chia test for which we have the protocol is for the presence of
    enteroviruses in the stomach.

    It has been known for decades that enteroviruses are involved in ME/CFS
    and this test is a tool to show them up. A number of scientific papers
    have been published detailing the results. Dr Chia now writes to me that
    'we have no doubt these viruses are the major causes of ME/CFS'.

    Dr Chia's work has demonstrated the persistent form of dsRNA [double
    stranded RNA] in 64% of ME/CFS patients. He writes: 'The more dsRNA the
    patient had, the worse they felt. dsRNA was first demonstrated by Lane et
    al in the thigh muscle biopsies of ME patients back in 1993. Now, we can
    readily find dsRNA in the stomach biopsy.'

    Of course there have been red herrings in the search for the real culprit
    in this disease. The viruses recently discussed in the press, and which
    we never considered to be the cause of ME, are XMRV and pMLV...

    The presence of those viruses has now been established as laboratory

    But for the press to run headlines suggesting that ME is not connected to
    any type of viral infection is just plain wrong-headed..."

    Jane Colby FRSA
    Executive Director
    The Young ME Sufferers Trust
    PO Box 4347, Stock, Essex, CM4 9TE
    Tel: 0845 003 9002

    Holder of The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service:
    The MBE for Volunteer Groups

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