Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading national public health institute of the United States.


CDC History with ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

The CDC has been involved with ME/CFS research and information since the 1980's. At this point, the disease has been studied as epidemic clusters under a wide number of names, solidifying around Epstein-Barr virus infection.[1][2] However the organization recognized chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) as a serious illness and began raising medical and public awareness of it in 2006.[3] Its role has involved developing definitions, providing information to doctors, patients, and health care teams, and funding and performing research.

Developing definitions of ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

The 1988 case defintion of Holmes criteria was developed to diagnose CFS. It was never widely adopted. The 1994 case defintion of Fukuda criteria was developed to diagnosed CFS. It is used worldwide in research. The 2005 case definition Reeves criteria was developed to diagnose CFS. It was never widely adopted.

Website updates[edit | edit source]

  • Jul 12, 2018, the "Information for Healthcare Providers" tab and its sub-tabs were updated.[6][7]
  • Feb 25, 2019, Dr. Elizabeth Unger, Chief of CDC's Chronic Viral Disease Branch (CVDB), that houses the ME/CFS program, in collaboration between Medscape and the CDC put out brief video and commentary page with links to the CDC's July 12th, 2018 updates for medical professionals: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It's Real, and We Can Do Better.[8]

Advocacy reaction to the CDC update for healthcare providers[edit | edit source]

  • Jul 29, 2018, CDC Revises its Information on ME[9] #MEAction report on the CDC July 2017 and July 2018 website updates. Recommendations for the CDC's ME/CFS page have been created from patient feedback of the healthcare provider update as well as asking for further patient input.
  • Jul 30, 2018, Dr David Tuller wrote an article on the revision of the CDC and stated it was mixed with some good points but some concerns.[10]
  • Oct 11, 2018, #MEAction sent recommendations to the CDC to update its ME/CFS website.[11] The #MEAction recommendations include community recommendations in red.[12]

Difficult relationship with ME/CFS communities[edit | edit source]

Patients, advocates, and physicians affiliated with ME/CFS have had a cautious, and at times fractured, relationship with the CDC. After the 1984 Incline Village chronic fatigue syndrome outbreak of ME/CFS, the CDC was dismissive to the clinical findings of Dr. Daniel Peterson and the afflicted patients. Hillary Johnson wrote her renowned book, Osler's Web, about this frustrating period. During this time the CDC coined the trivializing name, "chronic fatigue syndrome."[13]

Diverted research funding[edit | edit source]

In 1999, Senator Harry Reid requested the Justice Department start a criminal investigation into the diversion of research funds at the CDC that was earmarked for chronic fatigue syndrome. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that the agency misspent millions of dollars appropriated by Congress for research on chronic fatigue syndrome. According to an article in the Las Vegas Sun: "An inspector general reported in May that only $9.8 million of the $22.7 million Congress set aside to study chronic fatigue syndrome from 1995 to 1998 was actually spent on the illness. At least $8.8 million was spent on other research, including measles and polio. But government auditors said they could not determine what happened to an additional $4.1 million and the CDC has not explained where the money went."[14]

In 2000, Senator Reid stated: "I don't think it's fair that the Centers for Disease Control arbitrarily determined what Congress did is of no importance, and they can do with the money what they want. That's why not only do I think it's wrong from a substantive, moral standpoint, but it may be criminally wrong, and that's why I'm having the Justice Department look at it." K. Kimberly Kenney, then president and CEO of the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) Association of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., honored Senator Reid in March 2000 for his efforts to uncover the whereabouts of lost funds. She explained in a Las Vegas Sun article that the association had long suspected misspending by the CDC and had been working for six years to uncover such findings. "We couldn't get enough documentation to support our suspicions, and it was with Senator Reid's help that we were finally able to nail their feet to the ground."[15]

Dr. William Reeves[edit | edit source]

Another piece to explain the difficult relationship between the CDC and the CFS community was the leadership of Dr. William Reeves, the CFS Research Chief. The CFIDS Association of America, the International Association of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and CFSAC all criticized Dr. Reeves for his autocratic research style and his lack of collaboration. According to Cort Johnson: "Dr. Reeves started out with a disorder that few researchers at the CDC took seriously. Ironically even as his CDC prevalence and economic studies demonstrated it was a serious disorder, he seemed to take it less seriously in the end calling it ‘unwellness’ and referring to a broad range of triggering factors (obesity, inactivity, alcoholism, mood disorders, etc.) which ME/CFS professionals felt leery about."[16]

In the aftermath, Jeffrey Koplan, the CDC Director from 1998 to 2002, placed the chronic fatigue syndrome programs ­on budgetary probation and announced mandatory legal training for all budget managers.[citation needed]

Fake CDC Letter[edit | edit source]

In 1986, a fake letter posted on a CDC bulletin board was discovered and copied by Hillary Johnson in her book, illustrating the belittling attitude the CDC staff had towards the patient population.[17][18]

Public Health Grand Rounds[edit | edit source]

Beyond the Data – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Advancing Research and Clinical Education By Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) (Feb 17, 2016)

In this session of Beyond the Data, Dr. John Iskander and Dr. Anthony Komaroff discuss the disease commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome and the new research that’s advancing our understanding of this debilitating condition. Tune in to hear Dr. Komaroff’s take on symptoms, treatments, and where we can go from here to provide hope to those with CFS.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Advancing Research and Clinical Education By Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) (Feb 19, 2016)

Doctors and scientists have not yet found what causes chronic fatigue syndrome. Infections and other medical and biological events are among the many possible triggers, but with no certain cause this disease is difficult to diagnose. A systematic approach to evaluating people with persistent symptoms combined with new diagnostic criteria offers hope for more accurate and faster diagnosis.

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

PACE Trial[edit | edit source]

Former CDC head William Reeves commented on the CDC's involvement in the PACE trial:
The collaboration with Peter White is largely because Peter White came to us when the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK was trying to design its program and formulate recommendations about what the health service in the UK should do. We've consulted with them as far as our ideas and our expertise, and we collaborate with Dr. White on the PACE trial. He's an unusually intelligent individual-you've read some of his comments on some of our articles-whom we enjoy sparring with. He is an expert on autonomic nervous system function and he's highly instrumental in all of the hurdles, both with patients with the government and with physicians, in trying to put together, given the current state of knowledge, a national program.[23]

Notable people[edit | edit source]

ME/CFS awareness[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Online presence[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Jones, J; Ray, C; Minnich, L (1985). "Evidence for active Epstein-Barr virus infection in patients with persistent, unexplained illnesses: elevated anti-early antigen antibodies". Ann Intern Med. 102: 1–7. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-102-1. 
  2. Straus, Stephen; Tosato, Giovanna; Armstrong, Gary (Jan 1, 1985). "Persisting Illness and Fatigue in Adults with Evidence of Epstein-Barr Virus Infection". Ann Intern Med: 7–16. 
  3. Gerberding (Jun 7, 2008). "Address at CFS awareness campaign launch". CDC website. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  4. Tuller, David (Jul 10, 2017). "Trial By Error: The CDC Drops CBT/GET". Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  5. "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) | Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) | CDC". Jul 3, 2018. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  6. "New ME/CFS Web Content for Healthcare Providers | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC". Jul 12, 2018. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  7. "New ME/CFS Web Content for Healthcare Providers | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC". Jul 12, 2018. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  8. "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It's Real, and We Can Do Better". Medscape and CDC. Feb 25, 2019. Retrieved Feb 25, 2019. 
  9. Seltzer, Jaime (Jul 29, 2018). "CDC Revises Its Information on ME - #MEAction". #MEAction. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  10. Tuller, David (Jul 30, 2018). "Trial By Error: The CDC's Update for Healthcare Providers". Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  11. S, Jaime (Oct 11, 2018). "#MEAction Sends Recommendations to CDC to Update its ME Website - #MEAction". #MEAction. Retrieved Oct 12, 2018. 
  12. "Recommended Changes to the CDC Webpages on ME" (PDF). Sep 2018. 
  13. Hillary Johnson. (1996). Osler's web: inside the labyrinth of the chronic fatigue syndrome epidemic. Crown Publishers.
  14. Jansen, B. (n.d.). Nevada senator calls for criminal investigation of CDC over misspent money. Retrieved July 16, 2016, from
  15. Ferguson, Lisa (May 9, 2000). "Fighting fatigue - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper". Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  16. Johnson, Cort (Jul 30, 2010). "A Look Back at Dr. Reeves - CDC". Phoenix Rising. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  17. Osler's web: inside the labyrinth of the chronic fatigue syndrome epidemic, Hillary Johnson - Crown Publishers - 1996
  18. "CDC Spoof of ME/CFS". Onward Through the Fog. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  19. Iksander, John; Komaroff, Anthony (Feb 17, 2016). "Beyond the Data – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Advancing Research and Clinical Education". YouTube. 
  20. Lapp, Charles W.; Unger, Elizabeth R.; Komaroff, Anthony L. (Feb 19, 2016). "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Advancing Research and Clinical Education". YouTube. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
  21. Lapp, Charles W.; Unger, Elizabeth R.; Komaroff, Anthony L. (2016). "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Advancing Research and Clinical Education" (PDF). (Power Point). 
  22. Unger, ER; Lin, JS; Brimmer, DJ; Lapp, CW; Komaroff, AL; Nath, A; Laird, S; Iskander, J (2016), "CDC Grand Rounds: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome — Advancing Research and Clinical Education", Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65 (5051): 1434–1438, doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm655051a4 
  23. "Dr Bill Reeves (CDC CFS program) and CBT | ProHealth Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and Lyme Disease Forums". Retrieved Jan 30, 2019. 
  24. "CFS/ME CDC "Missing My Life"". YouTube. yelliat. Feb 7, 2007. 
  25. Unger, Elizabeth; Robinette, Christine (May 12, 2017). "America's Hidden Health Crisis: Hope for Those Who Suffer from ME/CFS | | Blogs | CDC". Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 
  26. "May 12 is ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia International Awareness Day". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 10, 2018. Retrieved Sep 7, 2018. 

ME/CFS - An acronym that combines myalgic encephalomyelitis with chronic fatigue syndrome. Sometimes they are combined because people have trouble distinguishing one from the other. Sometimes they are combined because people see them as synonyms of each other.

Graded exercise therapy (GET) - A gradual increase in exercise or activity, according to a pre-defined plan. Focuses on overcoming the patient's alleged unhelpful illness beliefs that exertion can exacerbate symptoms, rather than on reversing physical deconditioning. Considered controversial, and possibly harmful, in the treatment or management of ME. One of the treatment arms of the controversial PACE trial.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - A type of psychotherapy geared toward modifying alleged unhealthy thinking, behaviors or illness beliefs. One of the treatment arms used in the controversial PACE trial.

Accuracy - The "closeness of an observation to the true clinical state". With respect to diagnostic tests, "accuracy" means how specific and sensitive the test is.

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.