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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome May Be Linked To A Virus

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Chronic fatigue affects over 17 million people worldwide. It is a devastatingly crippling condition that has long been elusive for doctors and researchers alike. Today, those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome have reason to cheer. A study has revealed that chronic fatigue syndrome may be linked to a virus, more specifically, a retrovirus, writes Reuters.

A retrovirus is like the HIV virus that causes AIDS and it has been found in some prostate cancer patients, although it is not known if it is directly related to prostate cancers. The retrovirus goes into the cell, then copies its genetic material and uses the RNA to replicate in other cells. The retrovirus found is called the xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, XMRV. It has been known to cause leukemia in animals and it has been linked to other diseases such as autism, fibromyalgia, and atypical multiple sclerosis.

A co-author of the study, Robert Silverman, professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute and one of the discoverers of the virus thinks that the virus first began in mice. Then the virus migrated from the mice to humans. Silverman believes that “in most cases, people’s immune systems are probably able to control the virus.” In chronic fatigue syndrome, it is still unsure as to how the virus acts. The study is only one that shows that they may be linked. More research is needed to determine whether or not it is the pathogen that causes chronic fatigue syndrome and other diseases, writes the Wall Street Journal.

Chronic fatigue syndrome does affect the immune system and this is why it is thought that XMRV may be linked to CFS. It causes incapacitating fatigue according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other signs and symptoms of CFS include:

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* Memory loss
* Problems with concentration
* Joint and muscle pain
* Headaches
* Tender lymph nodes
* Sore throat

The symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome must last for at least 6 months and other diseases and conditions should be ruled out. Diagnosis of CFS is now made by ruling out other disorders. Perhaps in the future a test for XMRV may be a determinant in the diagnosis of CFS. It has been said by experts that CFS can be as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

It is thought that the virus may be able to be treated with a combination of several medications. Some of the medications that may be used include AIDS drugs and some cancer drugs, as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. The AIDS drugs that are being considered for study include nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and integrase inhibitors. The cancer drugs that might be used include proteasome inhibitors. The Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. LTD has a proteasome inhibitor called Velcade, although there is no evidence that it is currently involved in any study concerning XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome.

For more information on chronic fatigue syndrome, visit the CFIDS Association of America and the National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Association.