CFS Patients And Their Pets  

Monday, August 17, 1998

[NOTE: The following is a transcript of the Sunday, August 16 broadcast of the CFS Radio program, hosted by Dr. Roger Mazlen. The guest is Dr. Tom Glass, who is discussing his research into CFIDS patients and their pets.  This transcript is provided by Carolyn Viviani, who has given her permission to reproduce it as long as her name and email address are not removed from the end of the transcript. You can view transcripts of past CFS Radio, find links to audio versions of the shows and to Dr. Mazlen's home page at

Sadly, Carolyn tells me that this may be the last CFS Radio broadcast for some time. Dr. Mazlen has been funding the broadcasts himself, but is no longer able to do so; until a sponsor is found for the show, there will be no further CFS Radio broadcasts. Dr. Mazlen is hopeful of resuming
broadcasts in the fall, but no date has been set.]

DR. MAZLEN: Today we have a very important distinguished scientist as our guest. We have Dr. R. Tom Glass who's a dental surgeon and a Ph.D. and a Professor Emeritus of Pathology at the University of Oklahoma, Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. In fact he was one of the people who participated in forensic work on the Oklahoma City bombing victims but today we're talking about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and we're talking about animals and earlier in a show that we had in May where we had Neenyah Ostrom as a guest, she had spoken about the work of R. Tom Glass, but today, excitingly enough, we have Dr. Glass here to talk about it himself. Welcome to the show, Dr. Glass. Welcome, Tom.

DR. GLASS: Thank you, Dr. Mazlen. It's good to be here. and greetings to New York City.

DR. MAZLEN: Thank you. I think we should start and let you tell us about how you got into this area because this is a little different from some of the things you've done in the past.

DR. GLASS: Well, it is and it isn't, Roger. I have really spent most of my career in search of transmission of disease issues and so this was rather along that same line. But what happened was a number of the patients that I was seeing who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome talked about a relationship between their animals, either a relationship where the animal appeared to become ill in some way and then the patient developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or the patient developed their Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and subsequently their animal developed the signs that the patient thought
looked very much like their own disease process.

So we began an investigation of this and first looked at the experience that Chronic Fatigue patients had with animals and we basically looked at 125 people who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-that would be the criteria-diagnosed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - also called Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome - and asked them some questions about their animals. Did they have animals?  If so, what kind of animals? If they had animals, what was their role in terms of caring for the animals?

And the results of that study were very, very revealing. First of all, it's clear that people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are animal lovers. Almost 97% of the people had animals. More than having just one animal, many of these people had multiple animals and most of them gave a history of their animals having some kind of undiagnosed or inappropriate illness, inappropriate behavior, this sort of thing. And so that set up a stage then for the next study.

DR. MAZLEN: So, where did you go from there, basically?

DR. GLASS: Well, from there where we go is to asking these patients with the severely ill animals if they would allow us, since the animals were going to undergo euthanasia, asking if we might autopsy those animals. And so we set up a protocol as you have to do with research and had this pass by
both the committees that reviewed research in the human arena and the committees that review research in the animal area and both committees passed our protocol.

So we began a series of autopsies on these animals and the findings from the first autopsy I think were so significant. The first animal had gotten into a situation where it was constantly seizing and
because of these seizures the pet owner was unable to maintain the animal in any kind of health. Well, when we looked at the result of the autopsy, when we looked under the microscope at all the tissues that we had gained from the autopsies, the interesting and consistent finding in all the tissues was
that there was nothing wrong. There was absolutely nothing we could see at first blush that was going on with these animals.

Well, as part of that first autopsy we also had drawn blood from this animal and had injected a healthy animal to see if whatever it was that was making this animal seize could be transmitted and as we were reviewing the slides and were viewing the slide the healthy animal became sicker and sicker. Very much the same symptoms as the one that we had performed the autopsy on.

DR. MAZLEN: Well, that suggests a transmissibility of some sort.

DR. GLASS: It's a transmission of some sort and so we were rather convinced by this. Meanwhile we went back to the microscope a second time and looked at all the tissues and again came up with the same conclusion. While this animal clearly had unusual neurologic signs and a lot of other signs, that had kidney problems, that had GI problems, while this animal had these problems I could not document anything under that microscope in terms of traditional medical disease processes. In other words, this animal didn't have a brain tumor. The animal didn't have what appeared to be a bacterial
infection in the brain. The animal had no real cause for the symptoms and signs that were showing.

And so it was the third time that we looked at the slides that all of a sudden it began to be clear that what we were looking at was not a disease process as we ordinarily think of disease processes, but the individual cells were swollen and they contained a lipid material that made them look foamy under the microscope and at first blush you would have missed it because all of us who make these diagnoses mainly go to the brain center of a cell, that would be the nucleus of a cell, and if the nucleus is fine, there's not much more we can say about the cell.

But if we looked at the basically functioning part of the cell, the cytoplasm of the cell, what we found was that the cytoplasm was changed. So the cell would therefore be changed. And the functioning of that cell would therefore be changed. Well, with this in hand we were beginning to accrue more and more animals in our study, both dogs and cats and interestingly enough these animals showed this same change.

Now the first place we looked, of course, was the brain but as we began looking elsewhere, we found that a lot of the tissues showed these same type of changes. The tissues of the liver, the
tissues of the kidney, the tissues of even the salivary gland. We went so far as to look at the paw beds and the claws of these animals because, once again, a cat would project its claws and it projects its claws through a sleeve that has an oil, a lubricant and it was from that that we were able
to understand that not only was this organism affecting cells in the brain, but affecting cells throughout the entire body.

DR. MAZLEN: Including the paws.

DR. GLASS: Including the paw beds.

DR. MAZLEN: And I heard previously and I just want to slip this in that some of these animals are noticed to lick their paws a lot or frequently?

DR. GLASS: Exactly. They lick their paws, they also have that ability to lick themselves all over so they may run the risk of placing the organism at a variety of different places on their bodies.

DR. MAZLEN: Well, I'm glad I asked you that then. That does complicate it a
little bit.

DR. GLASS: It does complicate it. The largest involvements we found were in the animals' salivary glands. The salivary glands were showing this type of dysfunction but the interesting thing was that so many of the pictures as we began to study them produced some paradox from what we normally would have thought of in traditional diseases and therefore traditional diagnoses.

DR. MAZLEN: I want to ask you since you mentioned some foamy cells whether or not there's also been the finding of stealth virus in any of these animals because stealth virus shows in culture a type of foamy cell vacuolization in certain cells.

DR. GLASS: Roger, let me answer that question. Almost conversely in the sense that at the time we were doing the autopsies on the chronic animals I ran across the research of and met John Martin, who had isolated what he determined was the stealth virus. John sent me vials of the stealth virus
and, once again, under the protocol with the animals we injected this stealth virus into a series of animals and, in fact, produced the same condition. So, the stealth virus is at least one of the agents that is responsible for the kind of changes that we see in the animals. The answer we see is yes.

DR. MAZLEN: I wanted you to say it because a lot of people ask questions about stealth virus and I'm not really the person who's qualified to answer them specifically.

DR. GLASS: Well, you know, Roger, I think the name-and John and I have worked on the idea of this name-the reason I like the term "the stealth virus" is because in the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome the virus seems to be able to infect cells and yet not destroy the cells. The fancy word we use is "cytopathic". It doesn't have a cytopathic or cell destructive process and so it can basically go undetected by the body. Now we are beginning to understand what happens if the virus is detected by the body and that may be an even worse scenario but having the stealth virus, having it make the
cells dysfunctional, somehow the body is not able to recognize this virus as being harmful.

DR. MAZLEN: You know that leads obviously to problems which make it possible for the virus to persist in tissues and possibly even to spread, as you pointed out, to other tissues.

Talk about, as you had mentioned, because I want to at least put some balance in this situation, the point about animals being important for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients and that they shouldn't panic and do anything rash.

DR. GLASS: This is, I think, something that we have stressed from the very beginning of our research in the fact that when we did our initial survey of Chronic Fatigue patients, it was so apparent that Chronic Fatigue patients really are animal lovers. They're people that have a great deal of
interaction with their animals and when we did the analysis I remember one of my Chronic Fatigue patients saying, "My gosh, Dr. Glass, you mean I shouldn't have an animal." And that gave me such pause because on one side the animal for many Chronic Fatigue patients is so important in terms of
their own well being, that is to say that the animal is there, the animal accepts them in their limitations and is such an important factor that we do not want Chronic Fatigue patients to disown their animals.

I think the key is and what I admonish Chronic Fatigue patients to do is to be careful with their animals. They want to avoid close contacts. Let someone else feed the animal. Don't get down under the animal's face, don't let the animal lick you. I would be better if the cats were declawed so that they could not absorb any kind of body fluids in their claw beds. It would be better not to have the animal bite you. You know, play with a string and a ball on it as opposed to playing with your hands. These kinds are very practical aspects, Roger, of the things that I admonish my Chronic Fatigue patients to do.

DR. MAZLEN: I am very happy that you went through that list. I want to just quickly take this caller, Charles Ottlieb because he's the publisher of a newspaper. Charles are you there?

CHARLES: I was the publisher of the New York Native which published Neenyah Ostrom for 10 years and I just wanted to ask DR. GLASS about the possibility that this stealth virus is actually the virus that has been linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome over and over again which is called HHV-6 and whether there is any chance we can resolve rather quickly whether or not these viruses are related or the same thing?

DR. MAZLEN: OK, Tom it's your question.

DR. GLASS: Well, that's a great question and I think that, not to beg off, I just don't think we have enough information to say "yea" or "nay" on that. It looks like there are some very real possibilities from not only my work but from some of the other work that's being published at the present time
that HHV-6 is a very important factor and may in fact be the stealth virus. It's just at this juncture we don't have that data that's strong enough to really come down on that. But it's certainly an area that needs extensive investigation and certainly may well do it. The nice part about it is we have the animal model, we have the pathology and I would love to see a study where we infected animals with the HHV-6 and see if we get the same kind of cellular patterns. I think that is a way of answering that question.

DR. MAZLEN: And fulfilling Koch's postulates.

DR. GLASS: Exactly. Once again, fulfilling Koch's postulates which say you have to be able to identify an agent causing a disease remove that agent, grow it in a culture of some type, infect another system and produce the same disease. And so, yes, to answer your question, there is every
likelihood that it may be HHV-6 but we need those studies that confirm that.

DR. MAZLEN: I wanted to say Tom in terms of the ongoing research, I know you are also looking at therapies. You want to say a brief word about that?

DR. GLASS: Well, before I do that, let me talk just a little bit about some of the applications we made into the human population in terms of making or at least adding to the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. From our studies with the animals the involvement of the salivary glands were so
pronounced that we then set up a study to look at salivary glands in humans.

And what we found is that while Chronic Fatigue Syndrome very often is associated with a condition known as xerostomia or dry mouth, these people really seemed to have a different picture microscopically of their xerostomia as opposed to the dry mouth we see in autoimmune conditions like Sjogren's or like Mikulicz where the body is actually reacting against it's own salivary glands.

To make a long story short, what we've begun to do and have studied this now for about six years, we make a small incision in the patient's lip and take out 4 minor salivary glands. By looking at these
microscopically we can confirm Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It's a real excellent test and it's not terribly invasive. It's very reliable. And so, one of the things that we're doing now as an ongoing study is we're still seeing patients and having these salivary glands biopsies so that we can confirm their diagnoses of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

DR. MAZLEN: That's very exciting. We certainly want to pick up on that in a minute. I want to make a point here that this is a typical example of how important these shows are. Unfortunately we did have our original sponsor withdraw from the show recently and for that reason there won't be another show until later in the fall, I'm not sure exactly when. In the interim we'll be pressing our efforts to find a new sponsor and also when we resume notices will be posted on the Internet because we want to continue this type of exciting and important work about scientific discovery, about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and all of its aspects.

Dr. Glass' office number in Tulsa, Oklahoma is 918-747-4760 if you like to call and request further information or materials. Tom, what do you want to tell us in the way of wrapping this up for now. Obviously, there's a lot more to come.

DR. GLASS: Well, two things, Roger. Number one, I heard the break and I am so disappointed that your sponsorship has been cancelled because shows like this certainly are so invaluable to getting the word out to the people who are infected by these conditions.

The second thing is the positive aspect. Once we have the animal model we're able to introduce therapies. And that's so so important. Not only therapies in humans, but therapies in animals and
we're able to talk about vaccination. One of the things that we did as part of an entire protocol is we attenuated - that is to say we destroyed the virus that we were injecting into animals - and we injected that destroyed virus into animals. Not only did it not produce the disease, it produced
protection. Because we followed that with two insults with live virus and the animal never got sick.

DR. MAZLEN: So, we're talking about vaccinations for your animals, we're talking about vaccinations for family members and we're talking about good therapies. Because the therapies here have to be very very carefully applied. If the body is allowed to recognize this agent then more ominous things can occur so I am so impressed with the idea that we have everything available and like you what researchers such as myself and John Martin need is funding and we do not have the funding. Well, we're going to work on that. That something we're going to both be working on as members of stealth virus task force and as individual scientists. We're not going to give up.

DR. GLASS: Exactly, we're not going to give up.

DR. MAZLEN: Now, I think this information about the vaccine is exciting and at least it offers promise so that people can take that back to their friends and to people who know people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome who have animals. There is hope on the horizon for this.

We want to thank Dr. Glass because he's obviously a person with a lot of responsibilities, he's busy,
he's got his research but he's really enthusiastic about coming on this show. He told me in previous conversations that he really wanted to relate this information and we all owe him a vote of thanks.

Obviously there will be more about this. You can write or call Dr. Glass. I'll also give you an
address which is 2105 East 21st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 77114. Tom, thank you
so much for being with us today. We're very privileged to have had you as our guest. We look forward to talking with you some more and hopefully we will get another sponsor.

DR. GLASS: Well, Roger, it's been a pleasure and keep up the work. I mean, you feel sometimes in this work like you're working by yourself and all of us need to know that we're not.

DR. MAZLEN: Yes, and you've emphasized that and I am grateful for your efforts on behalf of caregivers and care providers and health care personnel like myself because you're making the headway that we need to make. Now we just have to work with the funding aspect, which hopefully we'll make some progress with.

We'll be back in the fall hopefully and when we do we'll be back on the Internet to let you know when and where you'll be able to reach us. So, stay tuned for another show in the future and it's been a privilege to be here to be your host and I look forward to being your host again for this important show.

Transcribed by
Carolyn Viviani

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