Post-bacterial infection chronic fatigue syndrome is not a latent infection

Med Mal Infect. 2019 Mar;49(2):140-149. doi: 10.1016/j.medmal.2019.01.006. Epub 2019 Feb 2.


Post-infectious chronic fatigue syndrome is a public health problem. Etiologies and physiopathological mechanisms are unknown. Some viruses are known to be involved in post-infectious chronic fatigue syndrome, but the role of bacterial infection is still questioned, especially in cases of post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome where subjective symptoms are regularly attributed to the presence of the dormant bacterium without scientific evidence. However, the medical experience of recalcitrant infections, relapses, and reactivations questions the role of "dormant bacteria" in asymptomatic latent infections as well as in subjective symptoms. We summarized scientific literature data on post-bacterial infection chronic fatigue syndrome, the role of dormant bacteria in latent infections, and bacterial asymptomatic carriage. Subjective symptoms described in post-infectious chronic fatigue syndromes are still misunderstood and there is no evidence suggesting that such symptoms could be related to dormant bacterial infection or carriage of viable bacteria. Psychological trauma may be part of these subjective symptoms. Post-infectious chronic fatigue syndrome could nonetheless be due to unknown microorganisms. Antibiotic treatment is not required for latent infections, except for latent syphilis and latent tuberculosis infections to prevent, after the primary infection, progression to the secondary or tertiary stage of the disease.

Keywords: Infection latente; Latent infection; Lyme disease; Maladie de Lyme; Post-infectious chronic fatigue syndrome; Syndrome de fatigue chronique postinfectieux.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Borrelia Infections* / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic* / diagnosis
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic* / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome* / diagnosis