According to new tests done on CFS patients, the HHV-6 virus appears to play a part in at least some chronic fatigue syndrome cases, and now there is a treatment that seems to be making a definite difference in their health.
HHV-6 IN CFS PATIENTS
My physician, Dr. Joseph Brewer, a Kansas City, Missouri Infectious Disease Specialist, is one of several physicians who have been participating in testing by the Wisconsin Viral Research Group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin regarding the HHV-6 virus as a cause of CFS.
Blood tests were administered to his CFS patients during 1998-99, which were sent to the lab in Milwaukee for analysis. A number of us were shown to have the HHV-6 virus active in our systems. As a result, Dr. Brewer came to the view that the virus may well be a cause of CFS, saying at the time:
"I believe there is rapidly mounting evidence that CFS is caused by active Human Herpes Virus No. 6 (HHV-6) infection.
"The chronic (periodic but repeated) reactivation of HHV-6 likely give rise to the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and the cyclical nature of the disease. It has been strongly suspected for a number of years that there may well be a viral etiology (causation) to chronic fatigue syndrome. The evidence that is accumulating with regard to HHV-6 is impressive and strongly suggests that this may well be the virus.
"There are probably a number of complexities involved in the scenario revolving this virus. I suspect that the immune system is involved in terms of allowing the virus to escape containment by the immune system and reactivate.
"Since this virus is known to be immune suppressive in its own right, thereafter it may continue to cause immunologic abnormalities. Certainly, I think there is a complicated series of events that occurs between the virus and the immune system, as well as neurologic features, that give rise to the complex array of symptoms in these patients."
Joseph H. Brewer, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Plaza Internal Medicine - Infectious Disease, P.C.
Kansas City, Missouri
In the studies performed by the Wisconsin Viral Research Group, single, random blood specimens from CFS patients were obtained from clinics around the country, and 39 percent of the patients turned out to be positive for active HHV-6. Significantly, none of the blood samples from normal control subjects were positive, demonstrating that active HHV-6 infections in the blood are highly abnormal.
Additional blood samples from some of these patients were drawn at different times during a 12 to 18 month period. Those samples showed positive to active HHV-6 an average of 50 percent of the time. Other patients who tested negative originally were tested a second time, and another 16 percent then came up positive to active HHV-6 infection, showing that the amount of active virus present in the course of an active HHV-6 infection may vary at different times.
You can read more on the Wisconsin Viral Research Group's research of HHV-6's involvement in CFS on their website at http://www.hhv6.com, and http://www.hhv6.com/phys-cfs1.html.
A NEW TREATMENT?
This past year, trials were conducted on CFS patients who were positive for active HHV-6 infection using a modified version of a treatment looked at earlier, using bovine colostrum. The treatment was run on 100 patients, half of which received a placebo. Those who received the new form of colostrum all showed definite improvement, some even after just five days. Thinking that they might be able to "jump start" the patient's immune system, the researchers had the patients take the colostrum for a week, then stop, then take it another week and stop, and so on. However, the patients would crash each time they stopped, proving that the optimal treatment called for taking the capsuls on a continuous basis.
Patients who received the placebo showed no improvement and felt no better. However, when they were then given the colostrum, they also began showing rapid improvement.
WHAT THE HECK IS COLOSTRUM?
Colostrum is the first milk from a cow that is present for 24-48 hours after the calf is born, and contains numerous immune-modulating components (antibodies, immune cells, transfer factors, and other immune-regulating proteins). This milk is very important to establish and maintain the immune system of a newborn.
To make a formulation helpful to CFS patients, cows that will soon have a calf are injected with a form of the HHV-6 virus. Cows are not affected by the virus, but build up immunities against this "foreign invader." These antibodies are included in the colostrum that the new-born calf receives. A company called Immunity Today, LLC uses a proprietary technique they developed in which a combination of transfer factors are extracted and purified. The end product is a sub-component that contains the important immune-modulating activities of transfer factors.
The product is called Tranfer Factor Formula 560, and is due to be available for purchase beginning in February, 2000. The only down side to the treatment is that since Formula 560 is sold as a food supplement, not by prescription, patients will have to pay for it out of pocket. And the cost is on the high side to start, with costs expected to be in the range of $250 to $270 per month.
To read more about Transfer Factor Formula 560 or order the product, go to: http://www.immunitytoday.com/immunity/faqs.html
Dr. Brewer is preparing a written report on the testing he was involved in and the new treatment, which he hopes to have done by sometime in March, 2000. If more is known by then, I will try to include that.
-- Bill Jackson
Any comments? Send them to Bill Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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