Portal:History and People

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History and People

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 building that housed the Royal Free Hospital in 1955 when the outbreak occurred
In 1955 there was a cluster outbreak of myalgic encephalomyelitis amongst staff at the Royal Free Hospital in North London, in the United Kingdom. The outbreak led to the creation of the disease name Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, coined by Melvin Ramsay who was a consultant physician at the time of the outbreak. (more...)




Photo from ProHealth

Ryan Prior is an advocate who wrote and co-directed the documentary, Forgotten Plague, based on his personal experiences as well as others living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). The topics of science and politics of ME/CFS were also included. He founded the Blue Ribbon Foundation. (more...)


In the news

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(read more)


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Professor Mady Hornig is a physician-scientist and Director of Translational Research at the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health where she is also Associate Professor of Epidemiology. (more...)


Books & Film

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Osler's Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic is a 1996 investigative nonfiction book by Hillary Johnson


Source: Dr. Peter Rowe's website

Peter C. Rowe, MD, is the director of the John Hopkins Children's Center Chronic Fatigue Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and a professor of Pediatrics at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. As a leader in the field of pediatric myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), Dr Rowe is invited as a frequent guest at ME/CFS conferences and served as one of the experts on the "Committee on the Diagnostic Criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" that was convened for the 2015 Institute of Medicine report, and serves on the Solve ME/CFS Initiative Research Advisory Council. (more...)


Selected picture

A shoe display at the 2015 Millions Missing protest in Washington, DC.



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From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.