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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome A Possible Long-Term Effect Of COVID-19, Experts Say
Wednesday 12 August 2020
Chronic fatigue syndrome a possible long-term effect of Covid-19, experts say
(CNN) – Terri Wilder became dreadfully ill in 2014, falling asleep immediately each day after she got home from work and laying in bed all weekend, recovering just enough to drag herself to work the next week.
"I could barely raise my hand to hail a cab," she said.
After nearly two years, Wilder was diagnosed with a disease called myalgic encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome, a neuroimmune condition with symptoms including brain fog, severe fatigue, pain, immune aberrations and post-exertional malaise.
She had worked for decades as a social worker and activist for marginalized communities, focusing on HIV research and education programs and LGBTQ health. Wilder was shocked to find that ME/CFS lacked a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and scientists studying the disease only received about $5 million annually in research funding from the National Institutes of Health.
At that point, she found herself in an altogether new marginalized disease community, reminiscent of the stigmatized groups she fought for at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
A chronic disease, ME/CFS can last for decades. It often takes root following some form of viral infection, for instance Epstein-Barr virus or Ross River virus. The novel coronavirus is just one more virus that can potentially trigger the onset of this debilitating condition.
Wilder fears that hundreds of thousands of people with Covid-19 could develop the same illness plaguing her. And leading medical experts have the same concern.
"Even after you clear the virus, there are post-viral symptoms. I know, because I follow on the phone a lot of people who call me up and talk about their course," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a July 17 interview with Medscape.
"It's extraordinary how many people have a postviral syndrome that's very strikingly similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome."
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