Myalgic Encephalitis, or ME, is associated with a stomach virus, according to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Pathology (BMJ). ME is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. John Chia and Andrew Chia examined data on 165 patients who suffered from ME. They all had longstanding intestinal complaints and underwent an endoscopy.

An endoscopy uses a extended tube with a camera at the end; it goes in through the throat (gullet) into the stomach. Stomach tissue was taken from the patients to test for viral proteins – these samples were then compared to specimens taken from healthy people, as well as patients with intestinal disease who did not suffer from ME.

The authors explained that ME patients frequently have intermittent or constant gut problems, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and indigestion. The following viral infections also produce several of the symptoms suffered by ME patients; glandular fever (Epstein Barr virus), cytomegalovirus, and parvovirus. Enteroviruses infect the bowel and cause severe but brief respiratory and gastrointestinal infections – there are over 70 different types of enteroviruses, they all affect the CNS (central nervous system, heart and muscles.

The majority of the biopsy specimens obtained from patients with gut (intestinal) problems showed evidence of long-term inflammation, explained the authors. Not many were infected with Helicobacter pylori, which is a common bacterial infection that triggers inflammation.

However, 80% of the ME patients’ specimens had enteroviral particles, compared to 7% of the healthy people’s. Many of the ME patients had the infections had been present for several years.

“Chronic fatigue syndrome is associated with chronic enterovirus infection of the stomach”
John K S Chia, Andrew Y Chia
Online First J Clin Pathol 2007; doi: 10.1136/jcp.2007.050054

Written by: Christian Nordqvist