As the rate of COVID-19 infection progresses in many regions of the United States, many patients, after experiencing an acute infection, continue to experience debilitating symptoms that result in a viral-induced fatigue syndrome with similar symptomatology to ME/CFS. It is well understood that viral or bacterial insult combined with other factors likely contribute to the onset of ME/CFS. However, the rate of post COVID-19 ME/CFS could drive these numbers up to staggering proportions, with one million ME/CFS cases in the U.S. today, prior to the pandemic.
This epidemiologic study surveys a community-based population in sufficient numbers to estimate the risk of long-term ME/CFS-like symptoms following infection of COVID-19. This part of the study will utilize two components: a longitudinal survey population, and a clinic-based assessment/phenotyping population. The longitudinal survey population will comprise of a large online survey component involving the study populations and the clinic-based assessment/phenotyping population consisting of a smaller on-site component to phenotype the ME/CFS-like illness.
Two main cohorts will be used for recruitment which include: Florida Department of Health (FDOH) surveillance data, and Community Health of South Florida (CHI), a federally qualified health center for a broad demographic of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Participants cannot self-refer to this study. In addition to the mentioned cohorts, we will be collaborating with five community-based physicians to refer participants for enrollment in this study.
The longitudinal survey population will be contacted at least four times a year for health and trajectory assessments over a three-year period. In the phenotyping/clinical assessments, additional survey questionnaires, physical examinations, echocardiograms, spirometry measurements, laboratory testing, and expert clinical examinations will be performed.