This question & answer moved over from my formspring account. This question was originally asked in September 2010.
Do you know how you got it, if it is a retrovirus? If it’s too personal for you to discuss it, say so.
We moved to CA in August 2003, and the first six months we were there I kept getting colds and sore throats. People there said, “Welcome to the Valley,” meaning they thought the pollution of the San Joaquin Valley was hard on my system. My illness started with something that seemed like food poisoning (but was accompanied by violent shaking and sweats) in April 2004, but I got quite ill moments after a flu shot in December 2003, and was very sick and tired for two weeks afterward. I’ve always wondered if the shot could have been contaminated. Nobody else at my office got sick from the shot, though. A month after the “food poisoning” incident, I was standing in our kitchen chopping carrots – it was May 29, 2004, at 5:45 p.m. – and it was if a huge wave hit me from behind and instantly sucked all the energy out of me – and the energy has never returned. That was my first “crash,” as they’re called.
Even before there was any information about what the illness was, I wondered if I could have picked something up from the roof rat infestation in our Fresno apartment building. It was pretty severe, not to mention gross (but the cats really enjoyed watching them). There were no rats in our actual apartment, but they overran our attic, patio and garage because our slovenly next-door neighbors left their trash out on their patio. I don’t mean they left bags or cans of trash out there – they just threw their trash out their back door and let it pile up.
Anyway, just today (9/24/2010), I found an abstract from the recent 1st Int’l Workshop on XMRV titled “Wild derived mouse as a small animal model for XMRV infection.” It says that standard lab mice “cannot support XMRV infection,” but Gairdener’s Shrew-mouse can. So my wild theory that I got it from the roof rats lives once more.
Chimp and I will both probably be tested for it this year (we are waiting on the release of a particular assay Dr. Cheney wants to be used). I assume Chimp will be positive too, but we will probably never know where it came from, whether I got it from him, somewhere else, or had had it for years and it just became active somehow. We have no idea. Nobody even knows how it is transmitted yet. What’s alarming is that one German study found XMRV in nasal secretions. The studies done thus far have found it in 4-7% of controls. We don’t know if it’s more transmissible than HIV, but it seems possible.