Chronic Fatigue Victims Harbor Retroviruses

A new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that retroviruses have been discovered in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome—which afflicts as many as 17 million people worldwide and has no known causes or treatments. Why this matters: Those with the syndrome are now likely to try pursuing treatment with drugs used to fight off HIV (which is another retrovirus). “This is all very new and there is no way to know if improvement will continue,” Jamie Deckoff-Jones, a doctor, blogger, and chronic fatigue patient, wrote of the study in an email, “but we appear to be on an uphill course.” The retroviruses—also known as murine leukemia virus-related viruses, or MLV—cause cancer and neurological problems in mice, but whether they cause such problems in humans remains unclear. The study is the latest of many recent reports about a possible link between chronic fatigue and a virus.