Ann Schluederberg Chronic Fatigue Indiana Gazette September 19, 1990
3n5tana (gazette / Wednesday, September 19, 1990 — Page 15 Doctors search for 'chronic fatigue'answers By ROBERT BYRD Associated Press Writer ATLANTA (AP) — The symptoms sound like the flu — except they don't get better. The name sounds like something a truck driver would get: chronic fatigue syndrome. It has been two years since what some cynically dubbed "the yuppie flu" was recognized as a real disease disease with a real name. Today, researchers still don't know who has it, what to do about it, or what causes it — although most how believe it unlikely that Epstein-Barr virus is responsible, as some studies once suggested. "I don't think we're very far along with understanding the cause of the syndrome," said Paul Cheney, a Charlotte, N.C., physician who helped pioneer treatment of syndrome syndrome sufferers in the mid-1980s. Today, the federal government is midway through an effort to determine determine the prevalence of chronic fatigue fatigue syndrome. Researchers are zeroing in on possible factors — including immune disorders and viral viral infections — that may lead to treatment. A study released Sept. 4 said evidence of a type of virus known as a retrovirus was found in the blood of 23 of 30 victims of the syndrome. Card shower marks 70th anniversary of Libengoods BLAIRSVILLE — Mr. and 1 Mrs. Earl Libengood, Blairsville, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Sept. 28. Earl Libengood and Beatrice Viola Yeager were united in mar- -riage on Sept. 28, 1920, by the • Rev. Lawrence in the Methodist " parsonage, Indiana. Charles Libengood, Libengood, father of the groom, and Ella Melinda Yeager, mother of the bride, attended the couple. Mr. Libengood is a retired • carpenter who built homes in the • Blairsville area for approximately approximately 50 years. They have nine children: Mrs. Virginia Beggs, Orlando, Fla.; Lawrence W., Blairsville; Mrs. Esther Wright, Blairsville; Mrs. • Joseph (Dorothy) Blazek, Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C.; Mrs. Thomas (Betty) Crosby, Keystone Heights, Fla.; Lloyd, Blairsville; Mrs. Harold (Mary) Christian, Charlotte, N.C.; Mrs. Shirley Ashcraft, Cas' Cas' tleberry, Fla.; and James, Blairsville. • Twenty-nine grandchildren, 43 great-grandchildren; and 12 great-great-grandchildren complete complete the family circle. A family celebration was held Sept. 16. Friends and neighbors are invited to participate in a card shower for the couple this . week. Their address is RD 4, Box 144C, Blairsville, Pa. 15717. MR. and MRS. EARL LIBENGOOD "It's very interesting and it definitely definitely needs to be followed up," said Ann Schluederberg, chief of the virology branch of the National Institutes of Health. She said a more direct cause-and-effect must be established. established. There are tens of thousands of Americans — maybe more — who believe they have chronic fatigue syndrome. Some of them almost certainly do not; the symptoms can mirror those of psychological illnesses illnesses such as depression. But some of them do have it. "It definitely exists," said Dr. Walter Gunn of the Centers for Disease Control. "We are finding people who meet the case definition." definition." Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized characterized by the debilitating, long- lasting fatigue that gives it its name. The fatigue is coupled with a group of related symptoms, including headache, sore throat, fever, weakness weakness and muscle and joint pains. Patients also can suffer from memory memory loss and difficulty concentrating. And it has to be more than a two-week bout with the flu. By definition, chronic fatigue syndrome lasts at least six months, often for years. Some patients may eventually eventually shake it; others don't. Most patients seeking medical help are white females 30 to 50, the CDC says. It isn't thought contagious, although although in some patients it follows an influenza-like illness or a viral infection. infection. A number of viruses are being looked at, although research is going away from the theory that Epstein- Barr virus is responsible. (Epstein- Barr infection is "almost inevitable," inevitable," hitting 80 percent or more of American adults, according to the CDC, and at least two studies have found that CFS sufferers are no more likely to have had Epstein- Barr.) Chronic fatigue syndrome also may be associated with immune system defects or pre-existing psychological psychological conditions, the CDC says. "The list of symptoms is so great, when a doctor looks at this, they think there's no way one patient can 'have all of this," said Sherry Stockton, Stockton, who has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and heads the Atlanta CFS Association, a support support group. Ms. Stockton chronicles a decade and a half of "weird health problems," problems," beginning in 1975, when she developed bladder paralysis after a bout with what she assumed was flu. •'Severe abdominal pain . . . headaches headaches you can hardly describe . . . cognitive difficulties. I get lost driving. driving. I can't remember people that I've known for years. "I started getting very ill. And now I'm sick every day. Every single day." Marti Goolsby of Knoxville, Tenn., has watched her 17-year-old daughter daughter struggle with the disease for almost a year. Dana was making good grades, acting in school theater and holding down a part-time job until she came down with what seemed to be the flu and never shook it, "It's been a struggle for her to get through the day, to keep up with her schoolwork," Mrs. Goolsby said. "Last Christmas Day, she crawled up like she was 2 years old and just went to sleep." Dana was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome a month later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Center in Nashville. Many sufferers assumed they were losing their minds. Ms. Stockton Stockton even underwent testing to see if she had clinical depression, rather than "real organic disease." Tests confirmed damage to the left half of her brain. "There's a problem. There's not one specific test we can do and say yes, this patient has CFS," said Dr. David R. Strayer, a professor and specialist in chronic fatigue syndrome syndrome at Philadelphia's Hahnemann Hahnemann University. Thus, no one is sure how many people might have the illness. "Every "Every time there's some publicity, we find patients by the thousands," said Janet Bohannon of the National CFS Association in Kansas City, Kan. The association's mailing list includes includes more than 20,000 potential sufferers. "My guesstimate, due to the influx of calls and patient inquiries, is that this is not rare at all," Ms. Bohannon Golfwear records billion-dollar sales By MARY NIEPOLD In 1988, there were 23.4 million million in 1988, almost double the any fashion market, you can count striped shirts, Orion sweaters and said. "Some people have said between between 1 and 3 percent of the population, population, and that's probably correct." "We really don't have a hard number," Strayer said. "Based on the activity of the support groups, it seems to be quite prevalent, although although we don't know whether it's on the increase, or whether our awareness awareness is on the increase." Some researchers believe the road to attacking chronic fatigue syndrome syndrome may start at patients' immune immune dysfunctions. "It's a variety of immunologic disturbances best characterized -as an immune system up-regulation," Cheney said, explaining that the effect is the opposite of the immune breakdown suffered by, for instance, AIDS patients. In some chronic fatigue syndrome cases, the immune immune system appears over-active, but the body develops deficiencies in its natural killer cells. "The immune system is very much turned on against a threat, either real or perceived," he said. "The immune system is an important important key," said Strayer, who is; involved with efforts to treat pa- • tients with the anti-viral immune! stimulant Ampligen. The drug has; been administered to female chronic; fatigue syndrome patients in New' Mexico under a "compassionate: use" exemption from the Food and; Drug Administration, and research- • ers have reported encouraging re-i suits in some patients, but not all. ; The Centers for Disease Control; launched a four-city surveillance- project last September "to deter- '. mine the prevalence and intensity of; this illness,". Gunn said. At least 250- cases have been turned up in the'< four locations. 1 The CDC also hopes to launch a; case-control study in Atlanta later j this year, putting patients through! extensive testing and questioning.'. Researchers are hoping to learn- behavior patterns, occupational haz-J. ards or other factors that could; trigger chronic fatigue syndrome. ; "What helps a lot of the patients,' and certainly helps us doctors, is the! idea that we're making progress on; the research front," Cheney said. • In the meantime, thousands of! people with chronic fatigue syn-; drome carry on as best they can. ; "People call it 'yuppie disease,' ". said Ms. Stockton. "Even 'chronic: fatigue syndrome' — I hate it. It; sounds like: 'She's tired. She's tired' of life.' ! "What they don't realize is the: extent of the pain involved in all of this. There is a lot of anger and bitterness in a lot of us."