Friday, October 9, 2009

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Virus

Researchers have identified a virus thought to be the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. This virus, called XMRV -- xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus -- was identified in a significant number of patients with CFS. It is a retrovirus. Similar to HIV, this virus replicates via RNA. This suggests that antiretrovirual drugs used for HIV may help patients with CFS. They is also some research with suggests that XMRV may be responsible for prostate cancer as well.

I wonder how many other cancers are associated with viruses. And there is need for work on the epidemiology of XMRV. How is it transmitted? How can we prevent transmission?

We have long suspected CFS was caused by a virus. There has been some suggestion that it was a rickettsial infection (similar to Lyme disease). In fact, I see many patients with CFS diagnosed with Lyme, although the fit with that diagnosis often seems tenuous. What an exciting discovery.

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