Simmaron Research blog post, by Cort Johnson, 5 July 2017: Even “Minor” Infections Can Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
Giardia hasn’t historically ranked high as a potential cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Some anecdotal reports suggest that a Giardia outbreak may have occurred prior to the Incline Village ME/CFS outbreak in the 1980’s. More recently, Corinne Blandino’s severe, decades long case of ME/CFS – which originated with an exposure to Giardia at work – demonstrated how devastating a case of Giardia triggered ME/CFS can be.
It wasn’t until city in Norway got exposed to Giardia in 2004, however, that Giardia, a protozoa, became one of the pathogens definitively linked with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Large studies (n=1254) examining the aftermath of the outbreak in a public water system in Bergen found that five years later, almost 50% of those originally infected still had symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and/or chronic fatigue (post-infectious chronic fatigue).
“Other patients suffer a severe, long lasting illness, for which treatment is ineffectual, and even after the parasite has ﬁnally been eliminated, some sequelae persist, affecting quality of life and continuing to cause the patient discomfort or pain” (LJ Robertson et al, 2010)
Five percent suffered from fatigue severe enough for them to lose employment or be unable to continue their education. Interestingly, all had taken anti-parasitic drugs and all had apparently cleared the pathogen from their systems. Five years later, 30% were deemed to have an ME/CFS-like illness and almost 40% had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
“Minor” Infection – Sometimes Serious Results
By all accounts Giardia shouldn’t be doing this. Giardia is not normally considered a serious infection. Most people have some diarrhea and pass the bug quickly – and if they don’t, antibiotics are usually (but not always) effective. Giardia, seemingly, produces the kind of “minor” infection that our medical system doesn’t spend much time on.
The Mayo Clinic reports that Giardia infection (giardiasis) is one of the most common causes of waterborne illness in the United States. The parasites are found in backcountry streams and lakes throughout the U.S., but can also be found in municipal water supplies, swimming pools, whirlpool spas and wells. Giardia infection can be transmitted through food and person-to-person contact.
Research studies are slowly revealing that the effects of even vanquished Giardia infections can be long lasting for some. The Mayo Clinic reports that intestinal problems such as lactose intolerance may be present long after the parasites are gone. (Even though half a dozen studies have been published on the Bergen outbreak, Mayo fails to note that long term issues with fatigue and pain (or ME/CFS) may result).
The Bergen studies indicate, however, that this rather common infection worldwide can cause long term and even at times debilitating fatigue as well. The takeaway lesson from the Bergen studies is that one doesn’t need to have mono, Ross-River virus or Valley fever or any of several serious infections to get seriously afflicted. As Dr. Chia has been saying about enteroviruses for years, any minor infection has the potential to cause ME/CFS in the right person.