Illustration: A. Canamucio

There has never been a better time, technologically, for our federal health agencies to launch a significant effort to prevent and control a chronic disease that has inflicted suffering on mankind for centuries. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the current name for an illness with many names and a long history. In 1681 Thomas Sydenham, founder of modern clinical, scientific, and public health medicine, described a disease spectrum identical to it called "muscular rheumatism." In the intervening years, assorted names have been assigned at different times and places. Today it is called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in Europe, low natural killer cell syndrome in Japan, and postviral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) and other names elsewhere.

Names aside, rising prevalence and disability rates worldwide warrant a concerted effort by our health agencies to utilize advanced technology to rein in this illness. Furthermore, directors of these agencies should ensure that programs...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?