CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME LINKED TO HHV-6 VIRUS ==================================================================================
International Conference on Chronic Fatigue Points to Low-grade Viral Infections in Brain
February 22, 2005
The HHV-6 Foundation, an association formed to raise awareness, funding and further research for human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), has today announced that some cases of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may be linked to human herpesvirus 6 A variant (HHV-6A). The announcement comes on the heels of the International Fatigue Conference on Fatigue Science that was held in Japan on February 9-11. The conference was attended by some 200 scientists from around the world.
Studies examining the role of the virus in CFS have had conflicting results over the years. The HHV-6 virus was discovered in the late 80's. Although the B variant is very common - over 95% of the population has had it - and causes roseola in infants, the A variant is less common. The A variant has been linked to CFS and multiple sclerosis (MS) and may hasten the progression of HIV. Dr. Ablashi reported that when the correct testing method is used, there is a strong association between HHV-6 and CFS.
Dr. Dharam Ablashi, co-discoverer of the virus and scientific director of the HHV-6 Foundation said, "There is good reason that it has taken a long time to build a case for this virus playing a role in chronic fatigue - it's very difficult to find. The virus is 'neurotropic' meaning it prefers to live in the brain tissue. It is quite possible to find a significant infection in the brain tissue, but no virus in the serum by DNA testing."
Dr. Daniel Peterson, a leading CFS clinician from Sierra Internal Medicine in Nevada, supported this finding. He performed spinal taps on patients with abnormal MRI or severe problems with cognitive functioning and found active HHV-6A virus in the spinal fluid of 20% of those patients. Twenty nine percent of these patients were positive at least once in the serum, and he found many patients who were positive in the spinal fluid but not the blood. Warned Peterson, "Just because you can't find it in the blood doesn't mean it isn't there."
Our primary objective at the moment is to get a test on the market that will be a sensitive indicator of active infection," said Kristin Loomis, executive director of HHV-6 Foundation. The evidence presented at the conference will go a long way toward dispelling the notion, still held by some physicians, that CFS is purely psychiatric."
There was a great deal of evidence presented at the conference in support of an infectious cause of CFS. Dr. Takeshi Sairenji of Tottori University showed evidence that 60% of CFS patients vs. 11% of controls had evidence of chronic activated antiviral pathways. He suggested that chronic fatigue might be caused by interferon from viral infections such as HHV-6, Epstein Barr virus and Borna virus.
Dr. Peterson has been treating some of his most severe cases with intravenous antiviral therapy and the majority has responded. He does not tell them they have CFS; he tells them they have HHV-6A subacute encephalopathy. Others have begun calling it the Peterson Syndrome.
February 23, 2005 01:57 PM PST
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