A new study has provided some clues to the cause of the mystery illness called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Researchers in the U.S. believe it may be linked to a common stomach virus and they are optimistic that their findings will result in the development of antiviral drugs to treat the debilitating symptoms.
The researcher Dr. John Chia, an infectious disease specialist practicing in Torrance, California and his son Andrew Chia examined 165 participants diagnosed with CFS.
The research was to some extent prompted by Andrew Chia's own incident of CFS ten years ago.
It has often been suspected that CFS is linked with enteroviruses that are known to trigger off severe gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
Enteroviruses, infect the bowel, and there are over 70 different varieties, they attack the central nervous system, muscles and heart.
Stomach tissue was taken from the CFS sufferers as well as from healthy people and analysed and it was found that 82% of the participants diagnosed with CFS tested positive for viral particles in their digestive tract, an indicator of CFS.
Dr. John Chia says he believes chronic antiviral infections are an important cause of CFS and the finding will lead to research on how the viruses work in the body.
It is estimated that more than 1 million people worldwide suffer from CFS which is a debilitating disease without any known cause or cure.
CFS was first diagnosed about 30 years ago and occurs more frequently in women between 40 -60 years, than in men.
Symptoms include acute sleeping problems, difficulties with concentration and memory, and inexplicable exhaustion; in the worse cases CFS can be as debilitating a disease as multiple sclerosis.
The study is published in the online issue of the Journal of Clinical Pathology.