Although the illness we now know as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis has existed for centuries, for much of that time it was a relatively uncommon disease.
Following the mass polio vaccination programs of the 1960s cases of polio were greatly reduced and outbreaks of M.E. seemed to be similarly affected. It wasn't until the late 1970s that M.E. began its dramatic increase in incidence worldwide. Over 20 years later, M.E. is a worldwide epidemic of devastating proportions. Many people have died from M.E. and there are now many hundreds of thousands of people severely disabled by this epidemic.
M.E. has a similar strike rate to multiple sclerosis and is estimated to affect roughly 0.2% of the population.
Children and teenagers are also susceptible to the illness and children as young as five have been diagnosed with M.E. (M.E. can occur in children younger than five, but this is thought to be rare.) All ages are affected but most commonly sufferers are under 45 at onset.
Women are affected by M.E. around three times as often as men, a ratio common in autoimmune disorders, although in children the sexes seem to be afflicted equally.
M.E. affects all ethnic and socio-economic groups and occurs all over the world.
There are currently more than a million M.E. sufferers worldwide.
To read or download an extended and fully referenced version of the above text, please see the What is M.E.? page.
Additional relevant links:
Various post-viral fatigue states/post-viral fatigue syndromes (eg. following glandular fever/mononucleosis, hepatitis, Ross river virus, Q fever, flu, measles, chickenpox, herpes and many other infections) Fibromyalgia Candida Athlete over-training syndrome Burnout Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome (MCSS) Multiple sclerosis Thyroid illness Adrenal insufficiency Localised and Metastatic malignancies Brain tumours, including astrocytomas, gliomas Transverse Myelitis Myopathic illnesses including: Myasthenia gravis, Mitochondrial myopathies, Post-infectious polymyositis Vitamin B12 deficiency disorders: Pernicious anaemia, Intentional dietary deprivation, Intestinal disease associated with or independent of M.E. Rheumatoid illness or lupus (SLE) Sarcoma Renal or liver disease Infectious illnesses including: Toxoplasmosis, AIDS, Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), Tuberculosis, Brucellosis Various psychiatric and social psychiatric states including: Anxiety neurosis, Uncomplicated endogenous or reactive depression, Clinical depression, Psychopathic personality disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Schizophrenia and other psychiatric disease.