A long-awaited, if controversial, update on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s CFS prevalence statistics was released Friday June 8, 2007. The title: "Prevalence of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in metropolitan, urban, and rural Georgia," by WC Reeeves, et al.
Employing a random digit dialing survey, the Atlanta-based researchers administered 19,381 telephone questionnaires to individuals between the ages of 18 and 57. They report that about 2.54% of those surveyed fit the following criteria: "reported severe fatigue lasting 6 months or longer that was not alleviated by rest, that caused substantial reduction in occupational, educational, social or personal activities, and that was accompanied by at least 4 of the CFS case defining symptoms" (outlined in 1994 by Fukuda, et al.)
If extrapolated nationwide, observers note, the 2.54% prevalence would imply a CFS patient population of some 7.5 million in the U.S., not counting adolescent cases.
Further, the team – led by the CDC's director of chronic viral diseases research, William C. Reeves, MD – found no significant difference in CFS incidence between respondents in metro area, urban, and rural populations, or between white and blacks in these populations.
However, the female to male ratio did differ significantly by location – ranging from 11.2 to 1 in metropolitan areas to 0.8 to 1 in rural areas.
To review a summary abstract of the CDC report, click here.
To link to the complete text of this free-access article – now in provisional PDF format, click here. Fully formatted PDF and HTML versions are in production.
And to read a commentary by UK-based CFS researcher Peter D. White, MD, on reasons to be cautious about interpretation and generalization from the CDC's findings, see "How common is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; How long is a piece of string?" – published June 8, the same day as the CDC report.