CDC Grand Rounds: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Advancing Research and Clinical Education.


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Abstract

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex and serious illness that is often misunderstood. Experts have noted that the terminology "chronic fatigue syndrome" can trivialize this illness and stigmatize persons who experience its symptoms (1). The name was coined by a group of clinicians convened by CDC in the late 1980s to develop a research case definition for the illness, which, at the time, was called chronic Epstein-Barr virus syndrome. The name CFS was suggested because of the characteristic persistent fatigue experienced by all those affected and the evidence that acute or reactivated Epstein-Barr virus infection was not associated with many cases (2). However, the fatigue in this illness is striking and quite distinct from the common fatigue everyone experiences. A variety of other names have been used, including myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), ME/CFS, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction, and most recently, systemic exertion intolerance disease (3). The lack of agreement about nomenclature need not be an impediment for advancing critically needed research and education. The term ME/CFS will be used in this article.

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