DePaul Univeristy Professor of Psychology Leonard Jason, PhD and Solve M.E. President and CEO Oved Amitay recently co-authored a response to a Nature article linking Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and multiple sclerosis (MS), and the possibility that EBV vaccines and antivirals could prevent MS. Jason and Amitay note the connection between ME/CFS and EBV call for similar research into preventive vaccines for ME/CFS.
Letter to the Editor: comments on Mullard, A. (2022). The quest to prevent MS – and understand other post-viral diseases. Nature, 2022, 603, 784-786.
Mullard’s recent article highlights the evidence suggesting Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) as a causative factor for multiple sclerosis (MS) and the potential to prevent this devastating disease. Other potentially preventable post-viral diseases should receive attention, specifically, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS)- a debilitating disease also associated with EBV. Nearly all cases of Infectious Mononucleosis (IM) are caused by EBV and 9-13% of individuals do not fully recover from IM and meet criteria for ME/CFS 6 months following onset.
The relevance of ME/CFS takes on even greater importance given recent findings that EBV viremia at the time of initial COVID-19 diagnosis is an anticipating risk factor for Post-Acute Sequalae of COVID-19 (PASC), and that EBV reactivation is prevalent. In a comparison between people with ME/CFS to those with PASC, both groups had high rates of fatigue, post-exertional malaise, cognitive impairment, and sleep disruptions and the majority with severe PASC met ME/CFS criteria.
While studying the effects of EBV vaccines and antivirals on reducing the risk or preventing MS is challenging, we must consider research to prevent ME/CFS. Such trials are feasible given that post-infection symptoms of IM typically present shortly after the acute infection and last for months or years. The successful experience of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination program that helps to protect against cervical cancer, should inform the public health approach to incorporate EBV vaccination to reduce the risk of ME/CFS.
1. Leonard A. Jason, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology | DePaul University
Director, Center for Community Research
990 W. Fullerton Ave., Suite 3119
Chicago, Il. 60614
Telephone: 773-325-2018 e-mail: LJASON@depaul.edu
2. Oved Amitay, R.Ph; MSc (corresponding author)
President and CEO, Solve ME/CFS Initiative
350 N Glendale Avenue
Suite B #368
Glendale, CA 91206
Telephone: 508-685-6738 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Jason, L.A., Cotler, J., Islam, M., Sunnquist, M., & Katz, B.K. (2021). Risks for developing ME/CFS in college students following Infectious Mononucleosis: A prospective cohort study. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 73(11), e3740–e3746.
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3. Jason, L.A., Islam, M., Conroy, K., Cotler, J., Torres, C., Johnson, M., & Mabie, B. (2021). COVID-19 symptoms over time: Comparing Long-Haulers to ME/CFS. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior, 9(2), 59-68.