Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - a new explanation

Sixty-seven percent of 101 patients diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) were found to be infected with a retrovirus called XMRV (Science, published online October 8, 2009). One hundred percent of those with CFS who subsequently developed lymphomas or leukemias were infected with the XMRV virus. If further studies confirm this finding, doctors will soon have a test to diagnose this horrible condition and possibly a vaccine to prevent it.

More than a million Americans are seriously ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Myalgic encephalomyelitis. CFS symptoms include severe weakness, exhaustion after any activity, loss of memory, and chronic recurrent infections. Patients rarely recover.

The retrovirus XMRV was first found in humans in 2006, in prostate cancer cells. It has been shown to cause nerve damage, immune deficiency, lymphoma and leukemia in animals. Retroviruses do not have their own DNA; they use the DNA of the host cells they invade. Retroviruses include HIV that causes AIDS, and Human Lymphotropic Viruses that cause leukemia and lymphoma. Just as some people infected with HIV do not develop AIDS, not everyone infected with XMRV will develop CFS. XMRV has been found in 3.7 percent of healthy Americans tested, adding up to an estimated 10 million Americans carrying this virus.

Although not proven yet, there is every reason to believe that XMRV is spread by exposure to body fluids (saliva, blood, semen). Having an infection with one of these retroviruses impairs your immunity so that you are more likely to become infected when exposured to any other germ.


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