A viral cause for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia

A friend (thank you, Heather!) shared a local news story with me that a human pathogen retrovirus has been found in patients with neuro-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. They have also found this virus present in some children with autism! Gasp! The implications are huge… they could possibly create a vaccine for this retrovirus. I don’t know yet what it means for those of us living in chronic pain and with fatigue, but preventing it in others is so exciting.

Last week, researchers from the University of Nevada, the National Cancer Institute and The Cleveland Clinic announced the discovery of antibodies to XMRV (gammaretrovirus xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) in 95% of patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). In a small sample of children with autism, 40% of them tested positive for the virus.

From what I understand, this is a virus that is like HIV in that it is blood-borne and that you may carry the virus but not show full-blown symptoms. It can lay dormant then some environmental trigger like stress, illness, or immunization sends the immune system into overdrive and the virus gets activated.

I’m extremely interested in this research. I’ve seen countless specialists over the years for my fatigue and pain and I’ve been told everything from “take vitamins,” “just take a walk everyday,” “there is nothing wrong with you,” and on and on. I only manage symptoms and I have to be a strong patient advocate for myself if I want to have any quality of life. Hopefully this discovery will lead to new treatment options. I’m also curious to see how the autism link plays out with XMRV.

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