XMRV is not the only virus

Picture of Emily Collingridge, a white woman lying on her side in a hospital bed covered in white sheets. She has an obviously distressed look on her face/ME is probably a mental illness after all - but that does not mean that it is not real - Mail Online - Michael Hanlon’s Science blog: From The Cutting Edge

This is one of the most ridiculous articles on ME I’ve ever read. It’s about the recently published Lipkin study, which disproved the link between the XMRV retrovirus (Xenotropic Murine Leukaemia Virus-related Virus) and an ME-like illness that had been ‘discovered’ in 2009. This article goes off on a tangent about hysterical ME “fanatics” threatening scientists and comparing them to Nazi war criminals. He also mentions a study last year that supposedly found that “a series of therapies, including exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy could be highly effective against ME - suggesting of course that this was primarily a mental problem not a physical disease”, and claims that Simon Wessely was involved in that. In fact, he was not.

The author claims that the Lipkin study demonstrates that “whatever the cause, it is not a virus” and supposes that “perhaps now the final nail in the coffin of the virus theory appears to have been driven home, we will find out once and for all the true story behind the ME fanatics”. However, the study does not disprove the idea that a virus causes ME, nor claims to; the investigation was solely into one type of retrovirus. It did not investigate the role of any other type of virus, including the enterovirus, which has substantial epidemiological evidence supporting it as the cause of ME and particularly epidemic ME.

Also, once again the coverage cannot resist the “sleepy model” stock pictures (in this case, a man in a blue pyjama top lying on white sheets, as ever bathed in light that would cause a real ME sufferer agony). The picture accompanying this shows a real ME sufferer, Emily Collingridge, who died six months ago today, from complications of ME. She describes her condition, which towards the end was one of the most extreme examples of physical suffering ever recorded, in this article and in an appeal for better research from May 2011 (reproduced on this site among many other places). The Lipkin study should mark a point where better quality medical research takes over, and the coincidental six-month mark since Emily’s death should be a reminder of the need for better care for the severely affected — not an upsurge in propaganda against patients, denying that their illness has any physical basis.

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