Has the virus described on this website been identified?
Dr John Chia, an infectious disease and enterovirus specialist, kindly read the symptoms detailed on this website, and told me that the virus I caught is probably an enterovirus, such as coxsackievirus B or echovirus.
When I took a plaque reduction neutralization test for Coxsackie B viruses in 2016, I found that I had high titers (1:1024) to coxsackievirus B4 (CVB4). These high titers to CVB4 are evidence of an ongoing active infection with CVB4.
This blood test also showed I had infections with CVB2 (titers of 1:128) and CVB5 (titers of 1:8). The CVB5 titer is very low, indicating CVB5 is just past, latent infections that is not active. The CVB2 titer is a little higher, but still not as high as my CVB4 titer.
So coxsackievirus B4 may well be the virus described on this website, the virus that triggered all my symptoms. Though coxsackievirus B2 is also a possible candidate for the virus described on this website.
Note that in these blood tests, viral titers fall in the sequence:
1:10 … 1:20 … 1:40 … 1:80 … 1:160 … 1:320 … 1:640 … 1:1280 …
Or else into the sequence:
1:8 … 1:16 … 1:32 … 1:64 … 1:128 … 1:256 … 1:512 … 1:1024 …
The higher numbers towards the right of these sequences suggest higher levels of infection. So for example, a result of 1:640 suggests more viral activity than a result of 1:80.
Note that a few years after I caught my virus, during the period 2005 to 2008, I had several pathogen tests, and was tested for: EBV, HHV-6, cytomegalovirus, varicella zoster, herpes simplex 1, herpes simplex 2, coxsackievirus and echovirus (using the insensitive complement fixation test, which usually cannot detect chronic enterovirus infections), parvovirus B19, Toxoplasma gondii, HTLV I & II, HIV, hepatitis B.
I was positive only to the pathogens in bold text. All these positive results in bold were past, latent infections, except for cytomegalovirus and HSV-1, which were both reactivated (both active infections). However, cytomegalovirus and HSV-1 could not have been the virus described on this website, because HSV-1 I have had since a child (I always had occasional HSV-1 cold sores since childhood), and the incubation period for cytomegalovirus is far too long (around 4 to 12 weeks) to match the very fast 12 hour incubation period of the virus described on this website.
I observed on multiple occasions that my virus (which I caught in 2003) had a very fast incubation period of just 12 hours. In fact 12 hours is faster that coxsackievirus B can normally achieve (CVB incubation period is normally 3 to 5 days; echovirus incubation period is 2 to 7 days).
Dr John Chia has found that active infections with CVB3 or CVB4 are most commonly found in ME/CFS patients. Less frequently, hew finds CVB2, EV6, EV7 and EV9 in his ME/CFS patients (EV= echovirus). 1
Where can I get tested for this virus?
In chronic coxsackievirus B and echovirus infections, very few viral particles can be found in the blood; as a result, only highly sensitive laboratory tests such as the plaque reduction neutralization test or the very similar microneutralization assay are able to reliably detect chronic enterovirus infections.
Neutralization blood tests are hard to find. ARUP Lab in Utah however provides such neutralization tests. If you suspect you have the virus described on this website, then the ARUP Lab micro-neutralization tests for coxsackievirus B1-B6 and echovirus are the ones to take (though these tests are expensive, costing around $440 each). Dr John Chia says an antibody titer of 1:320 and higher in these ARUP Lab tests is a good indicator of an active chronic enterovirus infection. 1 For echovirus, Cambridge Biomedical offer a neutralization tests which costs around $390. Unfortunately Cambridge Biomedical do not offer a coxsackievirus B test. Dr Chia uses both ARUP Lab and Cambridge Biomedical for his enterovirus testing. More information on enterovirus testing can be found here on this website.
Are there any treatments for this virus?
Assuming this virus is indeed an enterovirus, these viruses are very hard to treat, as there is very little in terms of effective antiviral drugs for enterovirus. Studies have shown that intravenous interferon therapy (costing $15,000) can fight off an enterovirus infection (in ME/CFS patients), but the virus and its symptoms generally return within 6 to 12 months; this indicates that interferon unfortunately does not clear all the viruses from the body, and the infection slowly regrows from the small pockets of virus that were left.
In the antiviral section of the Treatments Page I list some antivirals that may be helpful for this virus. One the Treatments Page I have also found some effective supplement and drug treatments for the symptoms of this virus (including the mental symptoms such as anxiety).
I think I have this virus and its symptoms. What should I say to my doctor?
Mention to your doctor that you think you have caught a persistent viral infection, but you may not want to exclusively focus on this infection.
This is because medicine does not have much in the way of effective antivirals, but often does have good means to treat the various symptoms and diseases that may be precipitated by a viral infection. So when visiting your doctor, it is a good idea to primarily focus on your symptoms and conditions that have arisen as a result of this virus, and see what your doctor can offer to treat these symptoms and conditions.
For example, I developed depression and anxiety as a result of this virus, and these conditions can be treated by antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, which is what I take. The medications I take are detailed on the Treatments Page.
Are you sure the symptoms described on this website are definitely due to the virus?
Without doubt. The virus described on this website did not just infect me: over 30 friends and family members also contracted it. After each of these individuals contracted this virus, various symptoms described on this website then manifested. As some of these infected individuals live and work in various different towns and cities, we can safely rule out the possibility that a local environmental toxin is responsible for these symptoms.
Why does this virus only cause severe symptoms in relatively few people?
From my observations on the 30 or so friends and family who caught this virus: around 10% of those who catch it seem to experience either severe mental reactions (such as a sudden onset of extreme anxiety disorder, mild psychosis, extreme anhedonia, and depression) and/or severe physical reactions (including myocarditis, pericarditis, heart attacks, or a descent into chronic fatigue syndrome). However, I noted that around 90% of those who catch this virus only seem to experience the relatively mild symptoms detailed below. It is not unusual for a virus to cause severe symptoms in one person, and be asymptomatic (or cause only minor symptoms) in the next person.
How is this virus transmitted?
The virus passes from person to person via saliva and nasal mucus. Though the contagiousness of this virus is relative low (compared to say influenza viruses and cold viruses, which transmit to others within a day or so), I have observed several times that this virus will eventually transmit to pretty much all members of a household over a period of a few months to a year, once one person living in the household has the virus. The virus is most easily spread via intimate or French kissing. It has also been noted that this virus transmits quite easily to others when people eat together at table, or have drink together (probably from globules of saliva ejected from the mouth of an infected person and landing on the other person’s food).
What permanent symptoms does this virus precipitate in most people?
As mentioned, when people catch this virus, around 10% will experience severe mental and/or physical symptoms, and around 90% will experience relatively mild symptoms. This 90% who are only mildly affected by this virus will tend to manifest many of the following permanent symptoms:
• Increased fatigue is very common.
• Some mild anhedonia may hit people (anhedonia is the loss of interest in things once found enjoyable, due to the brain finding life’s activities less rewarding and pleasurable).
• Some loss of libido is quite common (a loss of interest in and desire for sex).
• Emotional flatness or numbness (a blunted or enfeebled emotional response) is quite common, making relationships and activities less heartfelt. As a result of weaker emotions, people can also lose some of their forbearance or compassion for others, since these qualities tend to rest on one’s emotional backbone.
• Values that previously were important to a person may lose some of their significance and meaning. This might also be due to weakened emotions (since values often tend to be underpinned by emotion).
• People may become less inclined to socialize, and more insular: they loose some of the enjoyment normally derived from friendship and the company of others, and instead may experience increased irritability with people.
• There may be a decreased ability to cope with stress.
• Sound sensitivity may appear after a few years with this virus (this is where the brain finds it harder to cope with certain sounds and noises, such as screeching sounds, which seem to get “under the skin”). Such sensitivity to sounds is called hyperacusis.
• “Tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon — the inability to retrieve a word or name from memory during conversation (this is known as anomia). These word recall problems are relatively mild, and tend to appear in most individuals with this virus after a few years.
• Short term memory also seem to be quite noticeably compromised in a few people, and there is increased forgetfulness.
• Mild to moderate depression may appear in some people.
• About two-thirds of people will have permanent constant congested nose/sinuses/post nasal drip with unusually thick mucus once they catch this virus, and around one-third will have a chronic sore throat. The throat usually slowly improves over many years, but the congested nose remains forever, it seems.
• Glaucoma appears in around 10% of people with this virus after around five years into the infection.
• Some partial hearing loss may appear in the elderly; in younger people too, hearing becomes noticeably less acute. Some tinnitus may appear.
• An unusual fine crêpe paper-like skin wrinkling will appear all over the body in more-or-less everyone with this virus who is over 30 years old or so; this symptom manifests more severely in the elderly.
• Weight gain may appear after a few years with this virus — but generally only on the abdomen (central obesity).
• A sudden onset of periodontitis often occurs within the first few months with this virus. More brown plaque may also deposit on the teeth.
• Many people get cold hands and feet (lack of blood to the peripheries) manifesting after a few years with this virus.
• A few people get recurrent stomach aches that come back every few weeks or months. This symptom tends to occur more in the early years with the virus, and then disappears later. One infected person developed gastritis.
• Mild but permanent odorless flatulence and bloating is very common. This is definitely a long term symptom: it will still be present in people even 10 years after first catching the virus.
So these are the symptoms that are common in virtually everybody who catches this virus.
What evidence is there that this is a new strain of virus?
Although the virus described on this website produces many classic enterovirus symptoms, it also causes symptoms that have not been linked to enteroviruses, such as the fine crêpe paper-like skin wrinkling, the anhedonia and anxiety symptoms, and the unusual lymphonodular pharyngitis variant of a herpangina sore throat (up until now, only coxsackievirus A10 was known to cause lymphonodular pharyngitis), suggesting the virus described on this website may be a new strain of enterovirus. Enteroviruses are RNA viruses (in contrast to herpes family viruses like EBV and HHV-6 which are DNA viruses), and RNA viruses are subject to a greater mutation rate than DNA viruses, and thus can more quickly evolve into new viral strains.
Does this virus affect pregnancy?
A couple of women who have this virus have gone through pregnancies without any problems, and have had healthy kids. Though one murine study found that coxsackievirus B3 can reduce fertility. 1
How dangerous is this virus?
The horrendous mental state changes such as extreme anxiety disorder and severe anhedonia that this virus precipitates in a few people can lead these individuals to assume that this virus poses a great danger. However, in general, this is not really the case. Whereas it is undeniable that this virus does cause major and permanent mental state changes and some serious physical medical issues like heart attacks in around 10% of people, in 90% of people this virus will not cause significant clinical problems. Thus most people who catch this virus are able to continue in their normal lives and their jobs, albeit with subclinical mental and physical health issues that reduce the quality of life.
For any further questions, please ask them by posting a comment on the comments page.