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Stomach virus strongly linked to CFS

Chronic fatigue syndrome is strongly linked to a stomach virus, a study has shown, just two weeks after NICE came under fire for recommending psychological treatments for CFS.

The study adds further fuel to the long-running controversy over the root cause of the illness.

Earlier this month an ME patient group criticised NICE for stressing psychological treatments and underplaying viral infection when it called for PCTs to provide cognitive behaviour therapy and exercise treatments for the disease.

Now researchers from Enteroviral Medical Research in California have found that more than 80% of stomach tissue specimens from 165 patients with ME tested positive for enteroviral particles, compared with seven of the 34 specimens from healthy people.

In a significant proportion of patients, the initial infection had occurred many years earlier, the study published in this month's Journal of Clinical Pathology found.

Study leader Dr John Chia said: ‘Taken together, the findings suggest a strong association between persistent enteroviral infection and CFS.'

Dr Jeanette Downie, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital, Glasgow, said the results would not alter current treatments for the disease.

‘I don't think it necessarily makes a difference whether the cause is neurological or psychological,' she said. ‘It is probably a collection of factors.'

Dr Downie said the available evidence suggested that using a combined physical and psychological approach produced the best results.

Current NICE guidance on managing CFSCurrent NICE guidance on managing CFS Current NICE guidance on managing CFS

• Severely affected people should get specialist help at home
• CBT and graded exercise therapy should be offered for mild to moderate CFS
• A diagnosis should be made after four months of symptoms with no other apparent cause in adults, and three months in children

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