ME and CFS Abnormalities – Tahoe Epidemic


Following is a list of articles about medical abnormalities found in sufferers of the Tahoe epidemic during the mid-1980’s of the disease that went on to be called chronic fatigue syndrome by the CDC.

Links to the more than 1,000 peer-reviewed journal articles are listed on the M.E. and CFS Medical Abnormalities page of this website.


Buchwald D, Cheney PR, Peterson DL, Henry B, Wormsley SB, Geiger A, Ablashi DV, Salahuddin SZ, Saxinger C, Biddle R, et al. A chronic illness characterized by fatigue, neurologic and immunologic disorders, and active human herpesvirus type 6 infection.  Ann Intern Med. 1992 Jan 15;116(2):103-13.

The authors studied 259 patients from the Tahoe epidemic of the disease that later became ME/CFS in the mid-1980’s. Patients had a higher mean (+/- SD) CD4/CD8 T-cell ratio than matched healthy controls. Magnetic resonance scans of the brain showed punctate, subcortical areas of high signal intensity consistent with edema or demyelination in 78% of patients and in 21% of controls. Primary cell culture of lymphocytes showed active replication of HHV-6 in 79 of 113 patients and in 8 of 40 controls, a finding confirmed by assays using monoclonal antibodies specific for HHV-6 proteins and by polymerase chain reaction assays specific for HHV-6 DNA. The authors concluded that the neurologic symptoms, MRI findings, and lymphocyte phenotyping studies suggest that the patients may have been experiencing a chronic, immunologically mediated inflammatory process of the central nervous system.


Holmes GP, Kaplan JE, Stewart JA, Hunt B, Pinsky PF, Schonberger LB. A cluster of patients with a chronic mononucleosis-like syndrome. Is Epstein-Barr virus the cause? JAMA. 1987 May 1;257(17):2297-302. PMID: 3033337

A cluster of 134 patients from the Tahoe epidemic in the mid-1950’s was investigated. Fifteen case-patients were identified who had severe, persistent fatigue of undetermined etiology for more than two months. When compared with the remaining 119 patients who had less severe illnesses and with 30 age-, sex-, and race-matched control-persons, these 15 patients had significantly higher antibody titers against various components of EBV and against cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex and measles viruses. As a group, the case-patients appear to have had a syndrome that is characterized by chronic fatigue, fever, sore throat, and lymphadenopathy.


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