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January 14, 2005

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

January 12, 2005 KidsHealth.org

Sixteen-year-old Samantha is always exhausted. For months she's had swollen glands and weakness. She has difficulty concentrating in school, frequently has headaches, and finds it hard to get out of bed most mornings. Although Samantha's parents suspect she's involved in too many activities, they have also begun to worry because her grades have plummeted and her symptoms have worsened.

When Samantha and her parents visit the doctor to try to find out what's wrong, the doctor takes a detailed history of Samantha's symptoms, paying careful attention to how long they have been going on. After a full physical examination and several blood tests, it is determined that Samantha has a condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a noncontagious disease that was first recognized as a physical illness in the 1980s and remains the subject of a great deal of controversy. Even now, as increasing numbers of people are being diagnosed with the disease, there are still many people inside and outside the health professions who doubt its existence or maintain that it's a psychological ailment.

But several years of research have confirmed that CFS is indeed a physical illness - just one that's not fully understood. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) (CDC), it is estimated that as many as half a million people in the United States have a CFS-like condition.

The hallmark of CFS is symptoms of overwhelming fatigue and weakness that make it extremely difficult to perform routine and daily tasks, like getting out of bed, dressing, and eating. The fatigue does not get better with bed rest. The illness severely impacts school, work, and pleasurable activities, causing physical and emotional symptoms that can last for months or even years.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is more common in females than males and it affects all racial and ethnic groups. Most people experience this illness between the ages of 20 and 40, but the disorder also occurs in adolescents. A CFS-like illness has also been determined to occur in children younger than 12. The actual number of children and teens affected by CFS illness is unknown.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
The cause of CFS is not yet known. Current research is exploring the possibility that people with CFS may have a dysfunction of the immune and central nervous systems. Scientists are also studying various metabolic abnormalities and risk factors (including genetic predisposition, age, sex, prior illness, environment, and stress) that may affect the development and course of the disease.

Some researchers have suggested that a virus causes CFS, but this theory has not been proven. At one time, researchers thought that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) played a role in the development of CFS, but many people who are diagnosed with CFS have no evidence of EBV infection. However, a viral cause for CFS is still suspected because the symptoms of CFS often mimic a viral infection, such as chronic infectious mononucleosis. Researchers today are hard at work trying to prove a possible viral link to CFS.

Other theories suggest that one of the following factors may be to blame for CFS:

iron-poor blood (anemia)
low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
environmental allergies
a body-wide yeast infection
psychiatric or neurological problems

Because the symptoms of CFS are so vague and can vary widely from person to person, the CDC developed a detailed case definition in 1993 to help doctors diagnose the condition. According to that definition, a person must have both of the following in order to be diagnosed with CFS: a person must have severe, chronic fatigue for at least 6 months or longer, with other known medical conditions having been excluded by a doctor's diagnosis, and at the same time, an individual must have four or more of the following symptoms:

forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating
sore throat
tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpit
muscle pain or multi-joint pain with swelling or redness
headaches of a new type, pattern, or severity
unrefreshing sleep and vague feelings of illness or depression after exerting oneself, lasting more than 24 hours

In addition, any of the above symptoms associated with the fatigue must have occurred for at least 6 or more months in a row. Also, continuous fatigue should have been the first noticeable symptom of illness.

Other symptoms of CFS can include mild fever, blurry vision, chills, night sweats, diarrhea, and fluctuations in appetite and weight.

Difficulty Diagnosing CFS
Chronic fatigue syndrome is hard to diagnose because a single diagnostic test does not exist, and there is no identifiable cause of the illness. Another problem is that symptoms of CFS often mimic other disorders such as viral infections, kidney disease, cardiac disease, depression, and neurological illnesses. CFS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that doctors first have to make sure that a person's fatigue and other symptoms are not caused by another illness, a sleep disorder, or hormone problems such as hypothyroidism.

"We all get tired, depressed, and run down," says Joel D. Klein, MD, an infectious diseases specialist. But CFS is different from normal feelings of fatigue and low energy. "Symptoms of CFS often develop suddenly and include a strong, noticeable fatigue which comes and goes or remains for months," Dr. Klein explains.

Posted by Nancy at 06:44 AM | Comments (0)

Second church volunteer arrested in child abuse probe

January 10, 2005

METHUEN, Mass.— A second person faced charges in connection with a child abuse investigation at a Mormon church in Methuen, police said.

Paquette is a volunteer librarian at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Methuen.

Police said Peter A. Paquette, 59, of Andover, was arrested at his home on Friday. He pleaded innocent in Lawrence District Court to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

Last Tuesday, Kevin Curlew, 43, of Dracut, also a church volunteer, was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the 9-year-old son of a church member.

Police said Curlew and Paquette are friends, and both were placed in charge of monitoring children while adults attended church meetings.

Police said they received a tip last week that Paquette had not registered with the state Sex Offender Registry Board, a felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison.

In two separate cases in the 1970s and 1980s, Paquette was convicted in Somerville and Chelsea district courts of indecent assault and battery on a child, according to Methuen police Lt. Michael Wnek.

Curlew was held on $25,000 cash bail on charges of indecent assault and battery on a person under 14, enticement of a child, assault and battery, reckless endangerment of a child, and kidnapping.

He was arrested after police investigated a report that Curlew had assaulted the boy at the church, Wnek said. Wnek said the boy is now the only known victim, but are looking into whether there are more.

Posted by Nancy at 06:12 AM | Comments (0)

Transient faces 16 charges of child sexual abuse

January 14, 2005

Prescott, AZ – A 20-year-old transient is in custody on 16 charges of sexually abusing children and he may be facing additional charges, according to authorities.

Marco Antonio Ybarra faces five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of child molestation and eight counts of indecent exposure.

Det. Clyde Bentley of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said his agency began its investigation after a man reported that his 14-year-old daughter might be having a sexual relationship with Ybarra.

He said the investigation revealed six other victims, all girls between the ages of 8 and 14. He said they are all related to each other.

Bentley said that Ybarra befriended the 14-year-old victim at Prescott Live before the night club closed its doors, adding that the girl’s father allowed him to stay in their house in Paulden.

During that time, Ybarra committed the alleged crimes, Bentley said, adding that he believes that there are more victims, including under-age boys, who have not reported it to the police.

Bentley said Ybarra has lived in the tri-city area for some time and he attended the ACHIEVE Academy. He said he is investigating whether Ybarra recruited some other victims from the school because he believes that the suspect may have been sexually involved with other minors previously

Posted by Nancy at 05:22 AM | Comments (0)