Saturday, November 04, 2006

CDC: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 'Real'


Nov. 3, 2006 -- Chronic fatigue syndrome -- long doubted as a legitimate illness by many and largely ignored by the drug industry -- got a boost from the federal government today.

Buoyed by a spate of recent scientific findings tying the disorder to possible genetic and physiological causes, CDC officials said they want chronic fatigue syndrome to join the ranks of "real" diseases.

"The science has progressed," says Julie Gerberding, MD, director of the CDC, which today began a campaign to raise awareness of the disease among the general public and doctors.

"We are committed to improving awareness that this is a real disease," Gerberding says.


Studies estimate as many as 1 million Americans suffer from the disease. Fewer than 20% of those with the disease have been diagnosed, according to the CDC.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is defined as severe fatigue -- not relieved with rest -- that lasts six months or longer, and reduces the patient's ability to do usual daily activities.

Other symptoms include pain in the muscles and joints, problems with memory and concentration, headaches, unrefreshing sleep, sore throat, and tender lymph nodes.

The disorder has been cited as a major cause of absenteeism and lost work productivity, with the cost running in the billions of dollars.

Still, there is still no lab test, scan, or examination that can reveal chronic fatigue syndrome. It is diagnosed by a patient's history of illness, and after eliminating other conditions.

Also, there is no drug to cure it. Treatment focuses on bringing some relief from symptoms and the return of normal function.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The first national public awareness campaign on chronic fatigue syndrome is designed to educate the American public and health care professionals about who is at risk for CFS, the symptoms of the illness, treatment and management options, the importance of seeking diagnosis and treatment, and the impact of the illness on both patients and family members.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are committed to improving awareness about chronic fatigue syndrome and provide up-to-date educational resources on the illness. CFS is a public health concern because:

  • CFS affects more than 1 million Americans.
  • Less than 20% of Americans with CFS have been diagnosed.
  • CFS can be as debilitating as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and similar chronic conditions.
  • The annual economic impact of CFS in the United States is $9.1 billion in lost wages and earnings alone, not including health care costs or disability benefits.

It’s important for people to recognize the symptoms of CFS and, if you or a loved one has those symptoms… Get informed. Get diagnosed. Get help.

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