Is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) caused by an infectious agent?
Despite lack of evidence to support an infectious cause of CFS, diehard believers have continued in their quest for an answer. First candida was blamed for it in the 1980s followed by epstein-barr virus (EBV) in the 1990s then by lyme disease in the 2000s and now most recently by xenotrophic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) a virus initially isolated from prostate cancer tissue in 2006 has been the object of scrutiny. Unfortunately it appears that none of these theories hold up to rigorous scrutiny.
Though most infectious disease physicians are of the opinion that it is a non infectious syndrome with both physical and mental component there is a small but very vocal corner of the medical and patient advocate community that insists that it is an infectious disease.
Recently some suggestion was made about the possible association between CFS and a retrovirus named XMRV, after it was initially observed in a few patients that meet criteria for CFS. But further study was needed to determine if it actually is the cause of the disease. (see Koch’s postulates for the 21st century).
Such a study was recently published in this weeks issue of Science that could not find any link between CFS and XMRV.
This only confirms previous suspicions that this is probably a non-infectious entity. Those that suffer from it do need treatment but probably do not benefit from prolonged antimicrobial therapy.
No Evidence of Murine-Like Gammaretroviruses in CFS Patients Previously Identified as XMRV-Infected. Knox K, Carrigan D, Simmons G, Teque F, Zhou Y, Hackett J Jr, Qiu X, Luk KC, Schochetman G, Knox A, Kogelnik AM, Levy JA. Journal Science. 2011 May 31