Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Retrovirus may shed light on mystery of chronic fatigue

BY: Dr Garrett FitzGerald was once sent many patients who suffered from chronic fatigue. He listened with sympathy but believed the condition was psychological.

Back in the news big-time is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A recent paper in Science reports infection with a gammaretrovirus (XMRV) in 67 per cent of cases. The virus has been detected from blood and saliva in long-term sufferers.

Is it time to apologise to all the patients who were diagnosed as being somewhat cracked? I recall one colleague referring to the condition as the Muirisheen Durkan syndrome:

So, goodbye Muirisheen Durkan
I’m sick and tired of workin’!

For some unknown reason, I was sent many patients with the syndrome from all over the country. I was almost always impressed by the genuine nature of the symptoms, having no doubt that there just had to be something other than psychological reasons underneath.

I could do nothing for them
I listened (often the consultation lasted more than an hour) and in most instances after investigation told the patients that they were probably suffering from CFS/ME. I told them I could do nothing for them in terms of cure or alleviation.

The only contribution I made was to warn them about the quacks which they (understandably) were attending or ...

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