ME/CFS Primer/Education Bulletins A 30-Year Historic Review of a Community Hospital Epidemic Outbreak

Erich D. Ryll, M.D., Retired Infectious Disease Specialist

Affiliations at the time of Study:

University of California Davis School of Medicine; Davis, California

Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious and Immunologic Diseases and 

Mercy San Juan Hospital; Carmichael, California

Staff, Infectious Disease Specialist



Author Correspondence:

Erich D. Ryll, M.D.

383l San Juan Avenue

Carmichael, CA 95608

Phone: 916-944-8775

Fax: 916-944-8775




A 1975 outbreak, characterized by severe venous involvement, affected nurses and staff of a California community hospital spreading to other health care workers and unrelated persons.  Spread from epidemic to quintary cases was noted.  The purpose of this report is to delineate the hallmark symptoms of the outbreak and determine the functional state of affected patients 30 years later.


Sixty-one hospital epidemic cases were reviewed, and 30-year follow-up assessed by questionnaire, interview, and physical examination.


Painful veins; flu-like symptoms; and severe generalized pain, exhaustion, weakness, cognitive disturbances, and nervous system abnormalities marked the outbreak.  In 2006, 30 patients were available for follow-up, 14 were deceased, and 17 were lost to follow-up.  Of the living, 29 never became well citing generalized pain; energy absence; confusion, memory loss, other neurologic problems; and leg discomfort.  Only eight were able to return to work, five of who functioned with difficulty.  Of those deceased, 11 never worked after onset. 


A severe viral-like epidemic, apparently communicable and carried latently with pronounced venous inflammation resulted in permanent disability in 75% of those surveyed 30 years later.

Bulletin of the IACFS/ME. 2011;19(1):2-46. © 2011 IACFS/ME

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