The recent discovery of retrovirus XMRV raises more questions than answers for me. Not surprising, this is very new research. Speculation and theories explode as people wonder how, or if, this will impact their lives.
First theory. XMRV causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A good anti-viral is all that's needed and we'll all be cured. We all like that one.
Another theory. XMRV does NOT cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. CFS has an as yet undetermined cause which hogties the immune system, allowing XMRV to flourish.
A similar raising and dashing of hopes occurred when we thought for one shining moment that the Epstein-Barre virus (EBV) was the culprit. Lots of people who don't have CFS carry EBV but they're not sick. Nor does getting EBV under control eliminate CFS. Maybe whatever causes CFS also leaves people vulnerable to proliferation of EBV. And now, of XMRV.
Here's a related theory. XMRV is not the cause of CFS, but it alters our DNA and triggers other viruses. This could explain the wide range of CFS symptoms.
Worrisome thought. If XMRV is the cause of CFS ... what if they can't cure it? Are we doomed to carrying a life-long virus that stirs the pot every once in awhile, causing life-stopping relapses? Must we learn to live with the ominous knowledge that we carry within us a ticking time bomb?
Let's speculate in another direction. The first response for many of us was elation. Then trepidation, as we realized this may be great for people who test positive for XMRV. But what if I don't test positive? While those with XMRV get treatment, will I be once again discarded to the medical / scientific Ignore list? Where the reaction of much of the medical community is a shrug, a scratch of the head, and a barely concealed yawn?
Will I now be twice rejected? First for having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and now second for having the "wrong" one?
Just a few of the thoughts that have caused many a CFS relapse and crash last week. Other stalwarts with CFS wrote letters, made appointments, posted online comments and wrote articles.