Dec. 27, 2022 -- COVID-19 can cause some previously fought viruses to reactivate inside the body, leading to symptoms like those of chronic fatigue syndrome, a new study says.
It can happen even after a case of COVID that was mild or asymptomatic, says the study published in Frontiers in Immunology.
Symptoms of long COVID and chronic fatigue syndrome are alike and include dizziness, a racing heartbeat, and exhaustion.
Researchers wanted to see if COVID leads to repression of the immune system, thus permitting latent viruses to circulate again. Those viruses would be linked to symptoms common in CFS and long COVID.
“Researchers found herpes viruses … circulating in unvaccinated patients who had experienced COVID. In patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, antibody responses were stronger, signaling an immune system struggling to fight off the lingering viruses,” Fortune reported.
“Such non-COVID pathogens have been named as likely culprits behind chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis.”
Authors of the study wrote, “Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were analyzed in plasma and saliva from non-vaccinated” people with CFS and from healthy subjects.
Researchers detected reactivation of viruses through anti-viral antibody fingerprints in saliva.
“SARS-CoV-2 infection even in its mild/asymptomatic form is a potent trigger for reactivation of latent” viruses. “This has not been shown before because the antibody elevation is not detected systemically in the circulation/plasma,” they wrote.
They concluded, “Our results highlight that treatment options directed to boost antiviral immune responses, may benefit patients with (CFS) by tuning the fine balance between latent virus reactivation and an appropriate immune response.”