Chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition characterised by severe, continued tiredness that is not relieved by sleep or directly caused by other medical conditions, affects millions of people every year.
And although scientists are still debating whether the condition is caused by viruses, brain lesions, or some other factor, more and more blood collection organisations such as the American Red Cross, are erring on the side of caution, and preventing people who report having experienced symptoms from donating blood.
According to Scientific American, this cautious approach has been largely caused by a 2009 study which linked a retrovirus called XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus), to the syndrome, however doubt has since been cast on accuracy of the results.
XMRV was found in 67 percent of patients and 3.7 percent of healthy controls. But subsequent studies failed to find the virus in people with or without the syndrome, suggesting to some that XMRV may be a laboratory contaminant that skewed the initial trial…There has been no evidence of anyone contracting chronic fatigue syndrome from a blood transfusion.
But though the link between viral infection and chronic fatigue syndrome may prove to be a dead-end Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health believes that there is more to gain than there is to lose by being cautious.
“My sense is that the number of people with the syndrome likely to be sufficiently fit to make blood donations is so few that the Red Cross and AABB have decided for a variety of reasons, scientific and otherwise that it’s just not worth the risk.”
Source : Scientific American