By Jamie Ducharme in Time.
Afew years ago, Jaime Seltzer was helping coordinate research projects, grant applications and funding for a Stanford research group studying a condition called myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Up to 2.5 million Americans, including Seltzer, have ME/CFS, and yet it felt like almost no one paid attention to her group’s research. “What is it going to take for researchers to take ME seriously?” she and her colleagues often wondered aloud.
The morbid answer, they hypothesized, was a pandemic. Since ME/CFS often follows viral infections, they feared it would take something as destructive as mass illness for the larger scientific community to take notice.
Unfortunately, this year they were proven right. As the COVID-19 pandemic presses on, doctors are increasingly worried about the significant subset of coronavirus patients—estimated to be somewhere around 10%—who are suffering symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and chronic pain for months on end. Many of them will soon fit the diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS, which is characterized primarily by debilitating exhaustion lasting six months or longer. This flood of potential new ME/CFS patients has, just as Seltzer predicted, thrust her once little-known condition into the spotlight.
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