1980-81 Ayrshire outbreak

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During the period between January 1980 and June 1981, an outbreak of ME was documented in a rural practice in Ayrshire, Scotland. Details of the outbreak were documented and published by K. G. Fegan.[1]

A total of 22 patients with suspected myalgic encephalomyelitis were seen (16 females and 6 males), ranging in age from 6 to 53 years. The outbreak presented either as an acute or a subacute illness with protean symptoms. The most characteristic symptom was extreme exhaustion, particularly after exercise or any degree of emotional or mental strain. Other symptoms reported included headache, vertigo, increased sensitivity to normal sounds, tinnitus, chest pains on exertion (often with palpitations), anxiety, depression, sleep pattern disturbances, muscle aches and pains, coarse muscular twitchings, odd paraesthesiae, diarrhea, loss of appetite and alcohol intolerance. (See: Post-exertional malaise.) In 67% of the cases, there was a relapsing course. Routine laboratory findings were normal.[1]

A large percentage of patients affected by this outbreak were found to have elevated antibody titers to coxsackie B virus; 59% of the ME population had a titer greater than 512 implying a recent coxsackie B virus infection compared to 4% of the population residing in the surrounding area.[1]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Fegan, K.G.; Behan, P.O.; Bell, E.J. (1983), "Myalgic encephalomyelitis — report of an epidemic" (PDF), Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 33 (251): 335–337