Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Among Physicians: A Potential Result of Occupational Exposure to Stealth Viruses (Part I)


Four physicians with complex chronic disabling illnesses labeled as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) were shown by culture to be stealth virus infected. The clinical histories indicate multi-system stealth virus infection with encephalopathy (MSVIE). The exposure of physicians and other health care providers to stealth viruses is a potential occupational hazard.


Complex arrays of symptoms typify a number of common, chronic, disabling illnesses. To varying extents many patients report and/or demonstrate:

  • Impaired mental capacities, including loss of short term memory, difficulties in verbal expression and/or comprehension, attention deficit and lethargy;
  • Altered personality, including a reduced capacity to relate emotionally to others;
  • Mood changes, including depression, anxiety and anger;
  • Sleep disturbance;
  • Instability of autonomic nervous system regulation of blood pressure, pulse rate and/or bowel functions;
  • Headaches;
  • Generalized body aches and pains.

The medical community is split between those who view these symptoms as an indication of an underlying organic disease process, and those who consider the symptoms merely as an extension of the normal stresses and strains of everyday living.1, 2 Clinicians who advocate organic disease have used various diagnostic terms such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, depression, Gulf War syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit, multiple chemical sensitivity, etc. without clear-cut distinguishing clinical or laboratory criteria. The use of imprecise clinical labels has helped bolster those who believe that none of the illnesses constitute serious medicine.

Public Health authorities have also been slow in pursuing a possible infectious etiology of CFS and related conditions. Reports of community outbreaks of CFS-like illnesses have typically been discredited as emotional over-reactions of those affected, fueled by over-zealous, incompetent physicians.3 With little support from established medicine, patients have generally had to fend for themselves in explaining their illness to family, friends and disability insurance carriers.

For several years, I have been culturing atypical cytopathic viruses from CFS patients.4-6 I coined the term "stealth" because the viruses were apparently unseen by the cellular immune defenses responsible for triggering an anti-viral inflammatory response. I postulated that stealth-adaptation involved the deletion of critical viral genes that coded the major antigens targeted by T lymphocytes.4 DNA sequencing data obtained on an African green monkey simian cytomegalovirus (SCMV)-derived stealth virus support this hypothesis.7

During the course of studies on stealth-adapted viruses, numerous physicians have requested personal testing because of their own symptoms. Four particularly severe cases have been selected to help underscore the apparent occupational infectivity of stealth viruses.


Stealth Virus Cultures: Mononuclear cells were isolated from blood collected in acid-citrate-dextrose (ACD), yellow-topped tubes, using ficoll-paque (Pharmacia, NJ). The cells were added to MRC-5 fibroblasts and to rhesus monkey kidney cells (BioWhittaker, MD). The inoculated cultures were observed for the development over one to several days, of rounded vacuolated cells that form syncytia.4 The cytopathic effect (CPE) was enhanced by regularly replacing the medium (X-Vivo-15, BioWhittaker, MD). Confirmation of the CPE can, if required, be generally obtained by positive immunostaining of the culture with broadly reactive polyclonal antisera raised against various human herpes viruses. Immunostaining will generally also occur with the patient's own plasma and with many normal human sera.4 The CPE is morphologically distinguishable from that typically caused by human cytomegolovirus, human herpesvirus-6, adenovirus and enteroviruses. Additional distinctions from these conventional viruses can be made by using highly specific monoclonal typing antibodies, and by sequencing of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products generated using various primer sets under low stringency conditions.4, 6

Case Histories

Case 1:

An internist, who is now age 44, was well until 1987. At that time a nurse accidentally struck her in the hand with the needle of a syringe containing blood collected from an elderly patient. The patient had developed a transient acute encephalitis-like illness shortly after receiving a blood transfusion and subsequently became demented requiring nursing home care. The physician began developing symptoms within several days of the needle stick. These included vomiting, stiff neck, vertigo, headache, left eye pain, photosensitivity, somnolence and periodic fever to 100°C. CT and MRI scans were read as normal. The acute symptoms peaked at approximately two weeks and gradually improved.

By two months, the patient had regained her usual alertness and, in spite of continuing vertigo, photophobia and headaches, she returned to work. Gradually over the ensuing year, she became progressively more clumsy and even occasionally fell onto patients being examined. She had difficulty reading because of down-beating nystagmus. A repeat MRI was again negative. Routine viral cultures on a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample were negative. Detailed auditory and vestibular testing were consistent with endolymphatic hydrops with perilymphatic fistula, worse on the left side, and benign paroxysmal positional nystagmus, worse on the right side. The physician was unable to continue working.

Her overall clinical condition has further deteriorated over the last ten years. Daily attacks of vertigo, ataxia, headaches, photophobia, and weeklong attacks of severe fatigue have prevented her from resuming any type of work. Her short-term memory also became impaired. She has experienced frequent upper respiratory tract infections, which, based on positive serologies, have been labeled as Legionnaire's disease, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Chlamydia pneumoniae. Among her many illnesses, she has had recurrent bouts of nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea; one episode being attributed to C. difficile infection. Her thyroid had periodically become swollen and painful, with signs of de Quervain's thyroiditis with thyrotoxicosis associated with thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin. Resolution has required from 6 months to 2 years of prednisone therapy. She has had attacks of pancreatitis, interstitial cystitis, and is allergic to many foods and medications. The C5-C6 cervical disc has herniated, as has the L4-L5 lumbar disc. She has a reduced blood volume with orthostatic hypotension.

Additional laboratory testing has included positive PCR for chlanydia and for mycoplasma, and positive serology for Borna virus. Her blood has shown cryoglobulins and increased fibrinogen split products with signs of platelet activation. Both CD4 and CD8 T lymphocyte levels have been reduced. Blood 2-5A' synthetase, RNase-L, alpha interferon and interleukin-10 levels were raised. Urinary and stool porphyins were elevated. Her urine also showed excess mercapturic acid, D-glucaric acid, B-alanine, and hydroxyproline. A stealth virus culture was strongly positive.

Brain imaging showed a 4mm herniation of the cerebellar tonsils, mild cerebral atrophy and discernable subcortical encephalomalacia. Reduced perfusion and metabolic activities involving the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, were shown using SPECT and PET scans, respectively. Several years ago, the patient acquired a pet dog. The dog has had a remarkable medical history, including partial complex seizures, elevated liver enzymes, hypothyroidism, and recurrent prostate, urinary, gastrointestinal and eye infections. The dog also tested positive for stealth virus.

Case 2:

At 43 years of age, a previously healthy ophthalmologist experienced acute flu-like symptoms, which included sore throat, swollen cervical lymph nodes, night sweats, muscle aches and fatigue. The symptoms were gradually resolving when he began to develop burning parenthesia involving different regions of his body. These were accompanied by marked muscle weakness. Palpable nerves were tender. He had to discontinue work for two months. When he returned, he was still bothered by paresthesia, weakness, insomnia and fatigue.

A further exacerbation occurred eight months later with several days of confusion and disorientation, followed by apparent reduction in short-term memory, attention span, and verbal expression and comprehension. Muscle fasciculation was also noted. He again discontinued work and has remained disabled for the last 11 years. During this time he has periodically developed superficial, mucus exudative lesions that involve areas within the nostrils and on the lips. Cognitive impairments were documented on neuropsychological testing. Hypoperfusion was seen on SPECT scan and hypometabolism was seen on PET scan. Abnormal routine laboratory testing has included slightly elevated liver function tests. Special tests have shown marked elevations in alpha interferon and in interleukin 1. Material collected from the exudative lesions has shown herpes viral like-particles on electron microscopy. Viruses were also seen in a semen preparation and in an ultracentrifuge pellet from an acellular CSF sample. Multiple stealth virus cultures from blood, CSF, lip lesion, and semen, have been consistently positive on multiple occasions between 1992 and 1998.

Continued in Part II

© Copyright 2001 by W. John Martin, M.D., Ph.D., USA


One Response to “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Among Physicians: A Potential Result of Occupational Exposure to Stealth Viruses (Part I)”

  1. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Among Physicians: A Potential Result of Occupational Exposure to Stealth Viruses (Part II) | Healing Base on December 9th, 2011 14:30

    […] Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Among Physicians: A Potential Result of Occupational Exposure to Stealth Viruses (Part II) var addthis_product = 'wpp-262'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true,"data_track_addressbar":false};if (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Continued from Part I […]

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