Cluster Outbreaks


Lyndonville, NY


From the 1930’s to the 1980’s, many cluster outbreaks of a condition that eventually became known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) were reported. Whether clusters remain a factor in M.E. has yet to be studied.

Here is a list of some of the early epidemic spots of illness consistent with the description of M.E., with the names used to describe them at the time.


1934  Los Angeles County Hospital
Atypical poliomyelitis.
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1936  Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin – St. Agnes Convent

1937  Erstfeld, Switzerland
Abortive poliomyelitis among 130 soldiers.
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1937  St. Gallen, Switzerland  – Frohburg Hospital
Abortive poliomyelitis among 28 staff members and patients.
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1939  Middlesex, England – Harefield Sanatorium
Persistent myalgia.

1939  Degersheim, Switzerland
Abortive poliomyelitis among 73 soldiers.
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1945  Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Epidemic pleurodynia

1946  Iceland
Disease resembling poliomyelitis with the character of Akureyri disease.

1948  Iceland, North Coast towns
Epidemic simulating poliomyelitis.

1949  Adelaide, South Australia
A disease resembling poliomyelitis.
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1950  Louisville, Kentucky — St. Joseph’s Infirmary
Outbreak in nurses’ training school described as “epidemic neuromyasthenia.”

1950  Upper State New York
Outbreak resembling the Iceland disease, simulating acute anterior poliomyelitis.

1952  London, England – Middlesex Hospital Nurses’ Home
Encephalomyelitis associated with poliomyelitis virus.

1952  Copenhagen, Denmark
Epidemic myositis.

1952  Lakeland, Florida
Epidemic neuromyasthenia.

1953  Coventry and District, England
An illness resembling poliomyelitis observed in nurses.

1953  Rockville, Maryland – Chestnut Lodge Hospital
Poliomyelitis-like epidemic neuromyasthenia among student nurses.
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1953  Jutland, Denmark
Epidemic encephalitis with vertigo.

1954  Tallahassee, Florida
“A new clinical entity?”

1954  Seward, Alaska
Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis (Iceland disease).
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1954  Berlin, Germany – British army
Further outbreak of a disease resembling poliomyelitis.

1954  Liverpool, England
Outbreak among medical and nursing staff in a local hospital.

1955  Dalston, Cumbria, England
Epidemic and sporadic outbreak of an unusual disease.
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1955 London, England – Royal Free Hospital
Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.
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1955  Perth, Australia
Virus epidemic in waves.

1955  Gilfac Goch, Wales
Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1955  Durban City, South Africa – Addington Hospital
Outbreak among nurses of “Durban mystery disease.”
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1955  Segbwema, Sierra Leone
Outbreak of encephalomyelitis.

1955  Patreksfjorour and Porshofn, Iceland
Unusual response to polio vaccine.

1955  Northwest London, England – nurses’ residential home
Acute Infective encephalomyelitis simulating poliomyelitis.

1956  Ridgefield, Connecticut
Epidemic neuromyasthenia.

1956  Punta Gorda, Florida
Outbreak of epidemic neuromyasthenia.
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1956  Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, England
Lymphocytic meningoencephalitis with myalgia and rash.

1956  Pittsfield and Williamstown, Massachusetts
Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1956  Coventry, England
Epidemic malaise, benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1957  Brighton, South Australia
Cocksakie Echo virus meningitis, epidemic myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1958  Athens, Greece – nurses’ school
Outbreak of benign myalgic encephalomyelitis with periostitis and arthopathy noted.

1958  Southwest London, England
Reports of sporadic cases of myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1959  Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
Outbreak of benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1961  Basel, Switzerland
Sporadic cases of benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1961  New York State
Outbreak of epidemic neuromyasthenia in a convent.

1964  Northwest London, England
Epidemic malaise, epidemic neuromyasthenia.

1964  Franklin, Kentucky
Outbreak of neuromyasthenia in a factory.

1965  Galveston, Texas
Epidemic neuromyasthenia variant.

1967  Edinburgh, Scotland
Sporadic cases resembling benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1968  Fraidek, Lebanon
Benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1969  Brooklyn, New York – State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
Epidemic neuromyasthenia, unidentified symptom complex.

1970  Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
Epidemic neuromyasthenia.

1970  London, England – Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Outbreak of neuromyasthenia among nurses.
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1975  Sacramento, California – Mercy San Juan Hospital
Infectious venulitis, epidemic phelobodynia.
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1976  Southwest Ireland
Epidemic neuromyasthenia, benign myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1977  Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas
Epidemic neuromyasthenia.

1979  Southampton, England
Myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1980  West Kilbridge, Ayrshire, Scotland
Epidemic myalgic encephalomyelitis.
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1980  Helensburgh, Scotland
Cocksackie B outbreak in a private practice.

1980  San Francisco, California
Epidemic persistent flu-like illness.

1981  Stirlingshire, Scotland
Sporadic myalgic encephalomyelitis.

1981  Gunnedah, NSW, Australia
Outbreak linked with pesticides.

1983  Los Angeles, California
Initial cases of an unknown, chronic symptom complex involving profound “fatigue.”

1984  West Otago and Tapanui, Dunedin and Hamilton, New Zealand
Myalgic encephalomyelitis.
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1984  Lake Tahoe-Truckee area of California/Nevada
Start of a yearlong epidemic involving over 160 cases of chronic illness eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.
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1984  Yerington, Nevada
Epidemic of about 100 cases on a Native American reservation, eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.

1984  Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Epidemic among members of North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.
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1984  Montreal, Quebec-Ontario, Canada
More than 500 cases documented and eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.

1985  Lyndonville, New York
Epidemic among children eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.
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1986  Placerville, California
Epidemic eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.

1986  Sonora, California
Epidemic of 35 children and adults, mostly associated with Columbia Community College, eventually characterized as chronic fatigue syndrome.

1988  Narrabeen, NSW, Australia
Outbreak reported.

1989  Roseville, California
Outbreak of eleven cases of chronic fatigue syndrome among staff at Rosedale Hospital.

1990  Elk Grove, California
Outbreak among teachers and students at a high school.

1990  Mohave Valley Region, Arizona
Over 100 people became ill with a “multi-system stealth virus infection with encephalopathy.”

1990  Sacramento, California
An outbreak of “chronic fatigue syndrome” in the Twin Towers office building.


Read the ME-pedia Overview Article



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