Is chronic fatigue syndrome caused by a rare brain infection of a common, normally benign virus? – Source: Medical Hypotheses, August 2008

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disabling disease of unknown etiology. A variety of factors have been suggested as possible causes.

  • Although the symptoms and clinical findings are heterogeneous,
  • The syndrome is sufficiently distinct, at least in relation to the more obvious cases, that a common explanation seems likely.

In this paper, it is proposed that the disease is caused by a ubiquitous, but normally benign virus, for example, one of the circoviruses.

  • Circoviruses are chronically present in a majority of people, but are rarely tested for diagnostically.
  • Normally these viruses do not penetrate the blood-brain barrier,
  • But exceptions have been reported,
  • And related viruses cause disease in the central nervous system of animals.

The flu-like illness that often precedes the onset of CFS may either:

  • Suppress immune function, causing an increased viremia,
  • And/or lower the blood-brain barrier.

In both cases the result may be that a virus already present in the blood enters the brain.

It is well known that zoonotic viruses typically are more malignant than viruses with a long history of host-virus evolution. [Zoonotic viruses are those that are transmitted between animals and humans.] Similarly, a virus reaching an unfamiliar organ may cause particular problems.

Source: Medical Hypotheses, August 2008. 71(2)270-274 Grinde B. National Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. [E-mail: bjgr@fhi.no]

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