Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a disease that occurs both sporadically and as cluster outbreaks, was first documented in Los Angeles in 1934. Since, there have been dozens of outbreaks recorded in the medical literature, most notably the 1948-49 Akureyri, Iceland outbreak, 1955 Royal Free Hospital Outbreak in London and the 1984 outbreak in Incline Village, Nevada. The disease's existence almost certainly predates 1934, and may have been unrecognized for centuries or misdiagnosed as hysteria, neurasthenia, and later, conversion disorder.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis was first known as atypical polio and later called "Icelandic disease" until it was officially named myalgic encephalomyelitis following the 1955 London outbreak. ME was recognized as a neurological disease by the World Health Organization in 1969. Following the 1984 outbreak in Nevada, it was renamed and recharacterized by the Centers for Disease Control as "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."
In 2015, the US Institute of Medicine, based on a review of several decades of research, created a new definition of the disease and proposed a new name: Systemic exertion intolerance disease. Patient advocacy and a renewed interest in the disease among clinicians and scientists have led many new research groups to join the field in recent years, prompting several new discoveries and promising treatments to be tested via clinical trials. (more...)
Selected historical articles
The 1934 Los Angeles atypical polio outbreak is the first recorded outbreak of myalgic encephalomyelitis. 134 nurses, doctors and staff became ill with a disease resembling polio but that resulted in muscle fatiguability rather than permanent paralysis. (more...)
Nancy G. Klimas, MD, is an American researcher and physician who is the Director at the Institute for Neuro Immune Medicine at Nova Southeastern University in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She is, also: Director of Clinical Immunology Research, Miami VAMC; Professor of Medicine, Department of Clinical Immunology, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University; Chair, Department of Clinical Immunology, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Nova Southeastern University; and Professor Emerita, University of Miami, School of Medicine. (more...)
Maureen R. Hanson, PhD., is the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA. In addition to her research on genome-containing organelles of plants, chloroplasts and mitochondria, she is exploring the pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Research goals include examining the gut and blood microbiome in healthy vs. ill subjects and identifying differences in gene expression before and after exercise in subjects diagnosed with CFS/ME compared to healthy subjects. (more...)