Too Clean = More CFS, Polio?

Dr. Richard L. Bruno
International Post-Polio Task Force
The Post-Polio Institute
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center
Englewood, New Jersey U.S.A. 07631
Phone: (201) 894-3724 Toll Free: 1-877-POST-POLIO
Fax: (201) 894-0324

It is said that being wealthy, and therefore being less exposed to "germs" as a child, prevents low-level exposure to many viruses and allows infection and illness later in life.  It is still said that the reason black Americans had a lower incidence of polio in the 1940 was that they were poorer and therefore were more likely exposed to the poliovirus and developed early immunity.

In 1949, Albert Sabin, developer of the oral polio vaccine, reported epidemiological data collected by S.D. Collins (Sabin AB.  Epidemiologic patterns of poliomyelitis in different parts of the world. In Poliomyelitis. Lippincott:Philadelphia, 1949). Collins found 4 times more polio in white than black children under 15 year old in the Northeast and equal attack rates for blacks and whites in the South. The assumption was the northern blacks and all people in the South had poorer hygiene had been exposed to the poliovirus and developed early immunity.

However, looking at whites of all incomes across the US, Collins found that there was more polio in poorer white families. Looking at other racial groups across the world, Sabin concluded that race, and not poverty, explains in part the polio attack rate.  That susceptibility to poliovirus infection of the CNS is ultimately determined by the presence of poliovirus receptors on neurons, genetic predisposition that is likely related to race may be the fundamental determining factor allowing poliovirus infection of the CNS, and possibly CNS infections by all enteroviruses, including any that might cause CFS.

Bruno RL., et al.  Parallels between post-polio fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome: A Common pathophysiology? American Journal of Medicine, 1998, 105 (3A): 66-73.

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