Icelandic Disease, Polio and Up-regulation of Immune System.

Recently I saw on Facebook:

“Reading a book about CFS and although I knew there was a big outbreak of CFS in a region of Iceland in the 1940’s (over 1000 cases, mostly high school students), I didn’t know that 7 years later the same region of Iceland had a serious Polio outbreak and for some reason all of those who had gotten CFS were immune to the Polio virus. This led some researchers to believe that there is a virus that causes at least some cases of CFS and it may be closely related to Polio.”

I recall reading this in Osler’s Web: Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic(1996) back in 2000. I also read of the appearance of the immune system being up-regulated because CFS patient rarely catch other illness. Iceland or Akureyri Disease and polio is described in this study.

The light went on today that the microbiota hypothesis would explain both of these observations perfectly.

If we assume that most infections reprogram the microbiota by sending deceptive chemical signals to produce the chemicals it needs, or to surpress the chemicals it does not want then things become obvious.

If another infection comes along, it’s attempt to reprogram will likely fail. Without the chemicals to supply it’s reproduction the infection fails to get established.

This actually leads to the stable microbiota dysfunction being of evolutionary advantage. Having 2-4% of the population in this state means that if a nasty nasty deadly infection hits a population, this group will survive while all around them the healthy microbiota folks are being reprogrammed to eventually kill the person.