News & Politics
The author of The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic Cover-up interviews the leading Chronic Fatigue Syndrome researcher.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
In the April 29, 1991 issue of New York Native, there was a long interview, conducted by Neenyah Ostrom, with a very honest and outspoken doctor named Paul Lavinger. He was an internist who developed chronic fatigue syndrome in December 1989. His wife had contracted it in 1987. Ostrom reported, “In his extended household, five people now have been diagnosed with or are starting to develop symptoms of CFS. The Lavingers also have a five-year-old dog that ‘collapses for three hours’ after being taken for a walk.”
Lavinger told Ostrom, “From 25 years’ experience of practicing medicine and seeing how government agencies deal with outbreaks of illnesses, [he] believes that a ‘conspiracy of dunces’ is keeping the truth about chronic fatigue syndrome from the American public. . . . It’s absolutely ironic that the patients who have this illness, who are often turned away by physicians, are sicker than most patients in any doctor’s practice.” He also said, “The government doesn’t want to let the public know that they might be at risk, because if the public knew that they were at risk, then the public would demand certain things of the government. . . . But the government doesn’t want a public outcry. I think the government really wants to keep this quiet.”
He also believed, “The insurance companies are glad that the government doesn’t want to admit that this thing is real, because the insurance companies don’t want to have to pay.”
He also told Ostrom, “Families are in this conspiracy because they don’t want to feel guilty for not taking care of the sick family member—it’s easier to say that it’s your own damn fault. Can you imagine walking up to someone in an iron lung and saying ‘It’s your own damn fault you’re in this iron lung?’ So families absolve themselves of guilt. I know this story of a young girl with this illness: She had a typical story, there were lots of things she couldn’t do. So the family put her in a mental institution. I mean, they do this in Russia, but . . . the family doesn’t want to admit that the CFS patient is so sick that they might have to care for him or her. It’s easier to get rid of the sick person.”
Lavinger had an apocalyptic view of CFS and warned, “If you think the infrastructure of this country is the bridges, tunnels, and highways, you’re wrong—it’s the people. And I’m telling you that everybody could get sick—well, not everybody because there are people who are naturally immune to different kinds of illnesses. But it’s possible that half this country could get sick and that would be a disaster.”
In the May 6 issue of New York Native, published the second installment of the interview with Dr. Lavinger. When Ostrom asked him about the transmissibility of CFS, he said, “First of all, this disease is probably caused by a virus. Why do I say that? You know the story about the duck: If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck? Well if this disease isn’t a virus, it’s a duck. . . . The sheer number of people who are estimated to have CFS, as much as two to five percent of the population—maybe five to twelve million people—speaks to the issue of transmissibility. Too many people are getting the illness.”
Lavinger told her, “Practically all the people who got this disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, got it after 1980. . . . I spoke to a doctor who has been sick with CFS for six years but continues to work. In addition to his regular gastroenterology practice, out of the kindness of his heart, he takes care of 100 CFS patients. He told me that, among these 100 patients, he has 10 families. Eight of the ten families have two family members who had CFS; two of the ten families have three sick family members.”
Even though most of the evidence pointed to CFS being transmissible, he told Ostrom, “If you call the hotline at the CDC and press the right buttons on your touch-tone phone, they’ll tell you that CFS cannot be transmitted from person to person, period. And in the CDC pamphlet to doctors about this disease, it says exactly the same thing.
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