Boston Herald

Author:  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Might Be Contagious; Book Blasts Officials for Ignoring Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By Michael Lasalandra

A disturbing new book says chronic fatigue syndrome is not a psychosomatic illness but a legitimate disease which afflicts more than 2 million Americans and actually may be contagious.  In “Osler’s Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic” (Crown), author Hillary Johnson contends CFS, although repeatedly dismissed as a “yuppie” disease, hits all segments of the population equally, including blue-collar workers and the poor.

She says the name is misleading because the illness causes much more than fatigue. Many who are afflicted can no longer walk and are confined to wheelchairs or their beds, she says. 

The illness also results in cognitive impairment, she adds, prompting some researchers to believe it is the result of a virus that attacks the brain.

And based on the fact that “clusters” of cases have been reported in many areas of the country, Johnson said there is ample evidence of contagion.

But Johnson, an investigative journalist who developed CFS in 1986, says governmental health agencies haven’t studied the transmission of CFS, which she contends is an immunological disease with many similarities to AIDS.

The reason for the lack of research, she says, is that the National Institutes of Health’s top CFS investigator still suggests the disease is a psychiatric, rather than a medical problem.

She says, “In doing the research for Osler’s Web, it became apparent to me that the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health took a position early on that CFS was a malady manufactured by neurotics and hypochondriacs.  Theirs was a poorly conceived, knee-jerk response to an incredibly serious and complex public health crisis.”

The 800-page book is named after Sir William Osler (1849-1919), the British physician who believed passionately in the virtues of listening to the patient.  “Truth cannot be elicited but from those which have been well and completely observed,” he said.

Johnson’s charges have prompted Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to call for serious research into CFS.

Nadler, known for his support for AIDS research funding, also said he has met with the General Accounting Office to present evidence that CFS research funds have been improperly diverted to other uses and to ask that a full-scale investigation be launched.

“CFS is a tremendous public health menace which has not received the attention it deserves,” he said in an interview this month.

Garet Field-Sells

Field / Sells Studio, 3451 Loma Lada Drive, Northeast Los Angeles, CA, 90065

For over a decade, Garet's creative design, branding, and strategy career spans over interactive, print, technology, film and fashion for some of the world’s leading brands. Fusing contemporary business solutions with innovative ideas, Garet inspires entrepreneurs, start ups, small and large teams to conceptualize and deliver ingenious results. Based in Los Angeles, California – Garet has worked as a creative director overseeing big-picture projects from concept to launch with Paramount Pictures, EMI Music, Virgin Music, Helmut Lang, Converse, IBM, Ford, Canal+, HP, The Ritz Carlton and the U.S.' premiere plant-based culinary empire, Matthew Kenney Cuisine. As a marketing and business strategy consultant, Garet's regional work with Apple, Nike, and Equinox – alongside TBWA/Chiat/Day's creative team – helped form his approach to lean business models with simplicity, celebrating honest and compelling visceral experiences. Co-founder of Installation Media – Garet built groundbreaking platforms and interactive experiences for art institutions around the world, collaborating with The Getty, LACMA, MoMa, MOCA, The Barbican Centre, Tate, The Armory Show, Volta and the internationally regarded Southern California Institute of Architecture. As a producer, content creator, art director and multi-media specialist, he lead partnerships with BMW, Ruinart, Cadillac and Barney New York.