North Lake Tahoe Bonanza – October 10, 1986

Could explain fatigue illnesses- patients tested for new virus

by Jean Lamming NLTB Staff Writer

An Incline Village resident stricken with Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus said Wednesday that national medical researchers believe a new virus they have discovered is partly to blame for his syndrome.

Bill Rulle said researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. interviewed him last week in Incline and took samples of his blood. They will test it for a virus they discovered a year ago and think might be a partial culprit in the fatigue syndrome that struck some 200 North Shore and Truckee residents in the last two years.

“They think there might be a new virus and that what it is doing is triggering the Epstein-Barr Virus reaction on a constant basis.” Rulle said of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers.

The researchers are calling the new virus HBLT and B-cell lymphoma, Rulle said. New tests for the virus are inconclusive. Its symptoms include a positive test for Chronic EBV and the fatigue syndrome that accompanies it, said Rulle, who calls himself an “interested patient.”

Doctors, including Incline internist Paul Cheney who treated many area fatigue patients, and officials at the NIH have been vague on the subject of a new virus. Cheney said in September that news of a new medical discovery that might eventually be linked to Lake Tahoe would be announced in a prestigious medical journal this year.

A spokesman for Science magazine, a definitive professional research journal, said Monday that the magazine would carry two research articles from the NIH’s cancer research division in its Oct. 24 edition. The Science spokesman declined to comment on the content of the articles and said rsearchers involved are bound not to release information on articles before they are published.

The NIH researchers, who have reportedly tested about 72 blood samples from area residents for the presence of the new virus, took another 90 samples from residents during a visit last week, Rulle said. As many as 90% of he 70-some Lake Tahoe CEBV patients tested for the new virus showed positive signs of carrying it under the new test, Rulle said. Results of blood tests from people who are not infected with CEBV showed none were affected with the new virus either, he said.

“They are relatively sure that the new virus is in fact activating the EBV and not the other way around.” -Bill Rulle Incline Village fatigue illness victim

The test is too new to be conclusive, but supports the hypothesis that CEBV, which most adults carry latently, was activated in many area victims by the new virus, Rulle said.

“That was a scientific basis that what we have here is a new virus and all we can see as a symptom is CEBV, said Rulle. “They are relatively sure that the new virus is in fact activating the EBV and not the other way around.” he said of researchers.

The symptoms of the new virus fall under the umbrella of symptoms CEBV victims suffer from in varying combinations and degrees. Rulle said. These include chronic fatigue, upper respiratory-tract infections, headaches, tingling and loss of feeling in extremeties, dizziness, memory loss, sleep disturbances and more.

Rulle, who has been sick with CEBV for about two years, said if people at Lake Tahoe have the new virus, they might be among the first to develop antibodies to it.

“That is why we have two groups from the NIH very interested – the scientific group that discovered it (new virus) and the people who recently visited who study viral groups in populations.”