Story by MEA medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd.
Our press officer, Sarah Staples, was on BBC Radio Cumbria yesterday evening (Monday) to talk about the outbreak of ME that affected children and adolescents in the village of Dalston, Cumbria back in February and March 1955.
A description of the outbreak can be found in Dr Melvin Ramsay’s book on the history of ME, which is available from the ME Association.
Dr A L Wallace, the local GP, also wrote up the cases in some detail in the form of a postgraduate degree thesis that was submitted to the University of Edinburgh.
As part of the MEA contribution to ME Awareness Week this year we will be examining the history of ME, and what can be learnt from it.
We would like to hear from anyone in the Dalston area who was involved in this particular outbreak – which has received very little publicity in the following years. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a private message here and Sarah will get back to you.
ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS PREPARED BY DR WALLACE
In the first half of 1955 an unusual infective disease appeared in my practice, which is centred on Dalston, a village which lies 41/2 miles south-west of Carlisle, in the valley of the River Caldew.
The condition became prevalent in February and March and affected a considerable number of my patients; there were no fatalities but the disease was the cause of much disability and loss of working time.
The disease appeared to be infectious, and the illness was characterised by acute myalgia, disturbances of the reticulo endothelial system and central nervous system, and psychogenic sequelae which, in some instances, persisted for many months.
Relapses, with recrudescences of symptoms, occurred in a proportion of those infected; in some cases, several relapses occurred over a period of months, symptoms being minimal or absent between the recurrences. The clinical picture that emerged was one with which I was not familiar.
At an early stage in the epidemic I considered the condition to be most like glandular fever, and therefore sent serum samples and blood films to the Pathological Laboratory of the Cumberland Infirmary for Paul Bunnell screening and examination of the films for the picture seen in glandular fever.
LINK TO THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH THESIS
Full thesis pdf:
IF YOU LIVED THROUGH THE CUMBRIA M.E. OUTBREAK OF 1955…
Please email us at email@example.com and Sarah will get back to you.
from ME Association