Many post-infectious syndromes have been recognized in the last 50 years, some following viral infections and others closely related to bacterial disease. The occurrence of prolonged fatigue following an apparent viral illness of varying severity is also well documented. The lack of a recognizable precipitating cause and the tendency for epidemic fatigue to occur among hospital staff led many to believe that the illness may be psychogenic in origin. However, there is serological evidence that some cases may follow enterovirus infections or occasionally delayed convalescence from infectious mononucleosis. Much interesting work is currently in progress relating fatigue to persisting immunological abnormalities, and the development of molecular immunology makes this a most exciting field of research. This paper reviews the evidence for and against a definitive post-viral fatigue syndrome and examines the results of research carried out in the last 50 years.
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