Chronic fatigue breakthrough?

Twenty-five years after an Incline Village outbreak, there are reports of a breakthrough in dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

In August 1984, two physicians at Incline Village, Paul Cheney and Daniel Peterson, were flooded by seriously ill patients describing mononucleosis- or flu-like symptoms. Soon the Centers for Disease Control were in Incline drawing blood samples, but local community leaders were upset by the publicity, fearful of the damage it could do to tourism.

“There seemed to be a ‘cut off’ point,” Incline resident Erik Johnson later wrote. “If people recovered within two weeks, they seemed to have beaten it. But if this ‘weird flu’ went on for longer, for three weeks or more, the illness seemed to actually get worse. We had never heard of anything like this. That’s not how any normal flu acts. It scared us all to death.”

The malady was ultimately given a popular name, chronic fatigue syndrome, and a scientific name, myalgic encephalomyelitis. And it spread, along with misinformation and ebbs and flows in official concern. It didn’t help that some people considered it “yuppie flu.” That slowed funding for research. When funding was available, researchers said the sickness seemed to defy normal medical patterns.

Now, a research team based at Reno’s Whittemore Peterson Institute is reported to have discovered a link between CFS and a retrovirus related to a group of viruses found to infect mice.

The team chief, Judy Mikovits, will report the team’s findings at the Tri-Society Annual Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, next Monday.