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Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not a disease diagnosis, but a working case definition introduced to identify patients that may suffer from the underlying target disease. While originally intended for scientific research only, it has become widely used in clinical practice as well. The diagnosis was introduced after an outbreak around Lake Tahoe, Nevada in the United States of America of what was initially thought to be a form of chronic mononucleosis. When this could not be confirmed, it got generally assumed that CFS primarily captures sufferers of myalgic encephalomyelitis, a post-viral neurological disease that had generated similar outbreaks all over the western world. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there is a growing interest in identifying subgroups within the CFS patient population.
CFS or ME
CFS and ME are not synonyms, nor was CFS ever intended to replace the disease diagnosis ME. Patients diagnosed with (only) CFS could be suffering from other illnesses, including post-polio syndrome, other post-viral fatigue syndromes or forms of fibromyalgia. Patients with non-chronic ME do not qualify for a diagnosis of CFS. However, testing patients for CFS criteria could be considered the first step towards a diagnosis of ME (or other diseases).