A New Virus for Old Diseases?

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Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 530-531
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181349

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There is little consensus in the medical community on whether chronic fatigue syndrome is a distinct disease. As its name implies, the condition is characterized by debilitating fatigue persisting for many years, and it affects as much as 1% of the world's population. Although chronic inflammation is often found in these patients, no infectious or toxic agent has been clearly implicated in this disease, which is diagnosed largely by excluding other conditions that cause similar symptoms (1). On page 585 of this issue, Lombardi et al. (2) describe the detection of xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus (XMRV) in about two-thirds of patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Both laboratory and epidemiological studies are now needed to determine whether this virus has a causative role, not only in this disease, but perhaps in others as well.