November 13, 2019

Studies Linking Mouse Retrovirus with Fibromyalgia Appear Flawed

Social Security disability lawyers representing fibromyalgia clients often seen similarities in their clients.  Most fibromyalgia clients are “Type A,” overachieving females between the ages of 30 and 60 who experience a gradual onset of fatigue, myofascial pain, mental confusion, digestive upset and balance issues characteristic of a FM/CFS diagnosis.

Many of these fibromyalgia patients go from doctor to doctor looking for a cure, but, of course, there not only is no cure, but there is no consensus in the medical community as to how to objectively test for this condition.

Medical researchers have been working on this problem and over the past few years there have been a number of studies published that purport to identify unambiguous markers that will enable practitioners to objectively diagnose FM/CFS.

One of the more intriguing medical studies in recent years involved the Whittermore-Peterson Institute and researcher Judy Mikovits.

The fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS – also sometimes referred to as “CFS/ME,” where “ME” stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis) community has been roiled by a controversy over the news, reported first in 2009, that a mouse retrovirus might be involved in CFS.  Now, the research group which first asserted the connection between xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and CFS is at the center of another controversy – this one of a decidedly non-medical nature. [Read more…]

Little Known Virus Present in Many Chronic Fatigue Cases-May Lead to Definitive Testing

The New York Times cites an article in the medical journal Science which reports that 68 of 101 patients (67%) with chronic fatigue syndrome were infected with an infectious virus, xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus, or XMRV. By contrast, only 3.7 percent of 218 healthy people were infected.  Author Judy Mikovitz, M.D. states that on-going studies show tha the virus exists in nearly 98 percent of about 300 patients with the syndrome.

fatigue“I think this establishes what had always been considered a psychiatric disease as an infectious disease,” said Dr. Mikovits, who is research director at the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Reno, a nonprofit center created by the parents of a woman who has a severe case of the syndrome.

Dr. Mikovitz notes that XMRV is a retrovirus, which is the same family as the AIDS virus.  She states that she plans to treat CFS patients with some of the anti-viral medications used to treat AIDS patients.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia are commonly accepted as legitimate causes of disability in Social Security disability cases, although some judges continue to have difficulty approving claims in which there are no “objective” findings of disease.  Because no definitive testing exists, there is no “listing” for CFS or fibromyalgia and disability attorneys must prove that their clients are  not able to work by arguing that a claimant’s functional capacity for work has been eroded by the symptoms associated with CFS or fibromyalgia.

If CFS and/or fibromyalgia do arise from a virus and claimants can be tested for that virus, it is likely that SSA will create a listing for these chronic diseases.