London, United Kingdom, December 16, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- A map, created on Google, to help raise awareness of the plight of millions of people suffering from CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia, has become a surprise internet phenomenon.
The map was created after news broke of a link between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) and a new retrovirus called XMRV.
In little over a week the map (viewable at xmrv.me.uk's website) has had thousands of hits from people from all over the world who suffer with CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia. Around 150 a day are joining the map. The UK, USA and the Netherlands have the highest number of map entries so far. However sufferers from many other countries including Italy, France, Mexico and Australia have also plotted their location.
The map went viral shortly after its launch. Many in the CFS/ME community received information about the map from Facebook, Twitter or one of the many CFS/ME/Fibromyalgia discussion forums.
Of the Google Map xmrv.me.uk's Chris Max said: "This is a global cry for help. It's about creating a community. Seeing sufferers on a map brings home the fact these are real people in real pain, not just statistics."
According to xmrv.me.uk's spokesperson this innovative use of web 2.0 does three things: "It allows CFS and Fibromyalgia sufferers to see who in their locality is also suffering from the illness and, if we get large enough numbers, it may help spot trends or "hotspots" where the disease is most prevalent. But, most importantly, it helps sustain interest in this painful and debilitating disease."
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and Fibromyalgia (FM) are debilitating illnesses which have no cure and leave sufferers' lives in ruins. Even those with the best ability to adapt and cope often suffer from the abuse of other well-meaning people who think the ill somehow brought these illnesses upon themselves or that the illnesses don't really exist.
A new study published in the journal Science found the retrovirus XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) in 67% of patients with ME. Only 3.7% of the healthy controls studied harboured this infection. Later, the researchers reported up to 95% of patients test positive for XMRV with antibody testing.