THURSDAY, Feb. 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Many college students fully recover from infectious mononucleosis (IM) within six weeks, but nearly one-quarter go on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), according to a study recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Leonard A. Jason, Ph.D., from DePaul University in Chicago, and colleagues examined predictors of myalgic encephalomyelitis/CFS (ME/CFS) among 4,501 college students.

The researchers found that 5.3 percent developed IM, and six months later, 55 of 238 (23 percent) met criteria for ME/CFS and 157 (66 percent) were asymptomatic. Using 67 of the 157 asymptomatic students as controls, the researchers observed no differences between students with severe ME/CFS and those who were asymptomatic in terms of stress, coping, anxiety, or depression. However, there were differences noted in several behavioral measures, and those with severe ME/CFS had significantly lower levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-13. At diagnosis, the two ME/CFS groups tended to have more autonomic complaints and behavioral symptoms, while the severe ME/CFS group had higher levels of IL-12 and lower levels of IL-13 than the recovered group.

“At baseline, those who developed ME/CFS had more physical symptoms and immune irregularities, but not more psychological symptoms, than those who recovered,” the authors write.

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