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J Med Virol. 1996 Sep;50(1):25-30.

Viral serologies in patients with chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an illness characterized by disabling fatigue associated with complaints of fevers, sore throat, myalgia, lymphadenopathy, sleep disturbances, neurocognitive difficulties, and depression. A striking feature of CFS is its sudden onset following an acute, presumably viral, illness and the subsequent recurrent "flu-like" symptoms. It has been speculated that both CFS and debilitating chronic fatigue (CF) that does not meet strict criteria for CFS may be the direct or indirect result of viral infections. We therefore tested 548 chronically fatigued patients who underwent a comprehensive medical and psychiatric evaluation for antibodies to 13 viruses. Our objectives were to compare the seroprevalence and/or geometric mean titer (GMT) of antibodies to herpes simplex virus 1 and 2, rubella, adenovirus, human herpesvirus 6, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, and Cox-sackie B virus, types 1-6 in patients with CF to healthy control subjects. Other goals were to determine if greater rates of seropositivity or higher GMTs occurred among subsets of patients with CFS, fibromyalgia, psychiatric disorders, a self-reported illness onset with a viral syndrome, and a documented temperature > 37 degrees C on physical examination. Differences in the seroprevalence or GMTs of antibodies to 13 viruses were not consistently found in those with CF compared with control subjects, or in any subsets of patients including those with CFS, an acute onset of illness, or a documented fever. These particular viral serologies were not useful in evaluating patients presenting with CF.

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