Royal Free Disease

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Chronic fatigue syndrome has been reported in epidemic and sporadic form since 1934. It is known by a variety of synonyms. There are different diagnostic criteria in different parts of the world, possibly because the causative agent differs. In the UK the syndrome is commonly associated with a respiratory or gastrointestinal enterovirus infection.

NICE state that " a lack of epidemiological data for the UK, so population estimates are based on extrapolations from other countries. Overall, evidence suggests a population prevalence of at least 0.2-0.4%. This means that a general practice with 10,000 patients is likely to include up to 40 people with CFS/ME; half of these people will need input from specialist services.."


  1. NICE (August 2007).Chronic fatigue syndrome/ myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy) Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (or encephalopathy): diagnosis and management of CFS/ME in adults and children
  2. Sharpe M et al. Cognitive behaviour therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome: a randomised controlled trial. BMJ 1996;312: 22-6.

Last reviewed 01/2018