(CBS/AP) Could infections play a role in causing chronic fatigue syndrome?
That's the suggestion of a new government study that uncovered a link between the mysterious illness and so-called "murine leukemia-related viruses," a.k.a. MLV, which are known to cause cancer in mice.
NIH and FDA scientists tested the blood of 37 chronic fatigue patients and found MLV in 86 percent of the cases. MLV was detected in only 7 percent of 44 healthy blood donors.
Various viruses have been linked to chronic fatigue over the years, only to be acquitted as potential culprits in the mysterious illness, which is thought to affect about one million Americans.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is characterized by at least six months of severe fatigue, impaired memory and other symptoms. But there's no test for it and no specific treatment.
The most recent study, published in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science," does not prove that these viruses causes harm, said study co-author Dr. Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health. But it does raise more questions about whether an infection may play a role in the complicated illness, and the government has additional research under way to determine if the link is real.