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The Human Stealth Virus and Its Animal Origin

"When it happens to you or your child, the risks are 100%"
Vol.1, No.4, Sept./Oct. 1995, Barbara Loe Fisher, Editor
Published bimonthly by the National Vaccine Information Center

To The Reader: Since the beginning of September, I have been engaged in a remarkable dialogue with a scientist at the University of Southern California whose work I became aware of after reading an article published in the Riverside Press on August 28. Although the content of the September October issue of The Vaccine Reaction had already been scheduled, I came to the conclusion that this story was of such importance and potentially impacts upon so many individuals suffering from unexplained neurological, psychiatric and autoimmune disorder symptoms, that the entire issue should be devoted to covering it. I do not believe the significance of this research should be underestimated or minimized and, in the interest of public health and safety, expect that the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control officials responsible for insuring the public health and safety will take their responsibilities seriously and act quickly to support continuation of this research to confirm or disprove these scientific findings. Failure to act now could jeopardize the health and well being of every baby born and every child and adult who may already be infected with an atypical cytopathic virus they contracted through exposure to contaminated vaccines or exposure to infected blood or body fluids. - The Editor



In what could be one of the most important scientific discoveries of this decade, an award winning pathologist and immunologist at the University of Southern California, W. John Martin, M.D., Ph.D., has discovered an atypical virus infecting both children and adults who are exhibiting neurological, psychiatric and autoimmune disorder symptoms with diagnoses including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, seizures, developmental delays, autism, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, unexplained encephalopathy and chronic vegetative states. Martin and his colleagues at USC's Infectious Diseases and Molecular Pathology Laboratories have been meticulously culturing out stealth viruses from patients for the past eight years and, in a stunning development earlier this year, successfully identified one of the viruses as being of African green monkey origin by using DNA sequence analysis. Kidney tissues from African green monkeys have been used to make the live oral polio vaccine (OPV) as well as other viral vaccines during the past three decades.


A distinctive feature of the virus Martin and his colleagues has characterized is that it belongs to a novel class of atypical cytopathic viruses (capable of causing pathologic changes in cells), which they refer to as "stealth viruses" because they have the ability to evade detection by the body's cellular defense mechanisms and appear to lack the antigens which normally cause an inflammation typical of most infections that damage cells and body tissues. The monkey-related stealth virus they are studying is a cytomegalovirus belonging to the herpes virus family that causes an atypical viral infection of the brain - a "stealth virus encephalopathy" - that can produce a spectrum of disease symptoms without evoking an inflammatory response.

Therefore, a person can also become infected and can carry and transmit the virus to others without exhibiting symptoms. The stealth virus can remain dormant in an infected but symptomless individual throughout life. However, in some infected individuals the virus can become active, triggered perhaps by significant mental or physical stress, and go on to cause atypical responses to normal sensory input into the brain resulting in sudden, unexplained neurological symptoms. It is thought that a stealth virus can be transmitted, like HIV, hepatitis B or polio, by coming into direct contact with the virus (such as ingesting or being injected with a contaminated vaccine) or coming into contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected individual.


In an August 1994 article published in American Journal of Pathologv. Dr. Martin and his colleagues describe how over a three year period they repeatedly cultured out an atypical cytopathic virus from a 43-year old woman who became suddenly ill in 1990 with a sore throat, muscle aches, intense headaches, fever and eventually was hospitalized with suspected encephalitis/meningitis - although all tests came back negative. She continued to feel ill and eventually was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome accompanied by severe headaches, insomnia, memory loss and brain dysfunction. In that same article, Martin et al confirm that they also cultured out the same atypical virus from a patient with severe encephalopathy who had a four year history of manic depression.


Several months later in an October 1994 article published in the College of American Pathologists magazine CAP Today, Dr. Martin explained that "stealth viruses have been derived from herpes viruses (and possibly other viruses) by a process of major gene deletions and mutations. These genetic changes presumably account for the lack of an appreciable inflammatory response and for the wide host range of infectable cells." Although he acknowledges that neurological, psychiatric and immune system disorder symptoms can have a variety of causes, just as stealth viruses present in animals and humans can have different origins, Martin is pursuing the particular stealth virus he has identified because he has been able to scientifically prove its genetic relationship to African green monkey cytomegalovirus.

"The animal stealth virus we have identified has an unstable genome and it mutates easily. It doesn't grow very well in culture and so it can be easily overlooked during testing. Of concern is the fact that, when you introduce unstable animal stealth viruses into man, there is a risk of recombinant (the formation of new combinations of linked genes) events occurring which can produce new kinds of diseases. Now that we have the technology, it is very important to act immediately to screen viral vaccines for stealth viruses, to determine who is already infected and to develop therapies to interrupt activation as well as treat those who already have symptoms."

In the CAP Today article, Dr. Martin reports on several cases including a 19 year old boy who had suffered unexplained severe brain damage at age 17 and a six month old infant with unexplained seizures and delayed neurological development. Both patients had tested negative for brain inflammation but tested positive for stealth virus infection. In another case Martin describes several more patients who tested positive for stealth virus infection such as the woman who had been diagnosed by various doctors as having multiple sclerosis, lupus and cerebral pseudotumor and a woman who was diagnosed as schizophrenic at age 19, then manic depressive with delusions. Four years later she experienced a near-fatal encephalopathy with cardiac arrest and has remained in a vegetative state for five years.

In one family being studied by Martin and his colleagues, four family members have tested positive for stealth virus infection including a husband and wife diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, the wife's mother diagnosed with atypical Parkinson's disease and a son diagnosed with schizophrenia. All of these patients are now being diagnosed as suffering from stealth virus encephalopathy.


In a letter published in early 1995 in the Journal of Autism and developmental Disorders, Dr. Martin described the case of a 10 year old boy who began exhibiting autistic behavior at age one, was diagnosed as classically autistic at age four and currently exhibits ritualistic and aggressive behavior that is so difficult to control that he has been institutionalized. He has repeatedly tested positive for infection with the stealth virus and Martin concluded, "Repeated culturing a stealth virus from an autistic patient does not establish that the virus is responsible for the patient's illness. Symptoms of autism are, however, consistent with impaired neurosensory functions due to persistent viral infection and previous attempts to demonstrate viruses in such patients may have failed to detect stealth viruses."


In an article published in the July 1995 issue of Clinical and Diagnostic Virology, Martin and his colleagues describe how they conducted DNA and amino acid sequence comparisons showing that the stealth virus isolated from a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was "more closely related to the Colburn strain of simian cytomegalovirus than to cytomegalovirus of either human or rhesus monkey origin or to any other sequenced herpes virus." These comparisons were confirmed using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The scientists concluded that "the findings implicate the African green monkey as the probable source of the virus isolated from this CFS patient." They go on to suggest that "the potential introduction of pathogenic viral variants into humans through the use of African green monkey-derived cell lines in live virus vaccine production should be evaluated."


Martin and his colleagues have performed more than 1,000 cultures in their eight-year study of the stealth virus and have found that not only is there a clustering of culture positive findings in members Of the same families but that there is also a pattern of unexplained neurological illnesses in the pet dogs and cats of patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, indicating that the stealth virus may also be capable of infecting and being carried by animals. Testing this hypothesis, the scientists have isolated the monkey-related stealth virus from a culture-positive human patient and injected it into cats. In an article to be published in the December issue of Pathobiology, they report their remarkable findings of what happens to the cats after they have been infected with the Virus.


A casualty of the budget cuts that are hitting California and other localities across the country, the minimal funding that has helped USC's Infectious Diseases and Molecular Pathology Lab conduct stealth virus research has now been exhausted. The Lab has been forced to drastically cut back on its research linking the proliferation of atypical neurologic, psychiatric and immune system disorders in children and adults to the detection of an atypical cytomegalovirus whose genetic code is almost identical to that of a virus that is commonly present in the kidney tissues of the African green monkey and could have, therefore, been inadvertently transmitted to humans during the production of the oral polio vaccine. Committed to continuing their research because they know their discovery has the potential to save lives, Martin and his seven colleagues have continued to work without pay for the past month in an effort to keep USC's lab open.


Dr. Martin, who is professor of pathology and director of USC's Infectious Diseases and Molecular Pathology Lab, has received numerous awards, scholarships and fellowships during his 30-year career as a distinguished scientist at Harvard, University College in London, University of Sydney in Australia, NIH, Food and Drug Administration, and the National Cancer Institute. In June, Dr. Martin and S. Zaki Salahuddin, Ph.D., Li Chang Zeng, M.D., Khalid Ahmed, M.T., Jing G. Seward, M.D., John-Carl Olsen, Inderjit Singh Seehrai, M.D., and Mark Nowicki, Ph.D., applied to the FDA for a 6-month grant to:

1) Determine the prevalence of simian cytomegalovirus derived stealth viral infection in humans;

They are proposing a simple, quick and cost-effective way to do that by performing serological, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and viral culture testing of blood and lymphocyte samples already stored in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH which were obtained during the federally funded Transfusion Safety Study (TSS) conducted in the 1 980's. The University of Southern California acted as the prime contractor for the TSS, a study which was conducted because of the fear that blood products were contaminated with viruses, including HIV. The goal of the Transfusion Safety Study was to try to determine the prevalence of viral infections, including HIV, in well defined populations in the U.S.

In addition to the proposal to test the TSS samples for stealth virus infection, Martin has already obtained permission from the Los Angeles County - University of Southern California Medical Center's Institutional Review Board to test blood and fluid samples stored in their archives if funding can be obtained to do it. The scientists estimate that if they tested a total of 250 blood samples from both of these sources, it would be adequate to make an initial scientific determination of the scope of stealth virus presence in the U.S. population.

2) To screen monkey colonies used for the production of viral vaccines for the presence of stealth viruses.

They are proposing that immediate steps be taken to stop using monkeys that are infected with the stealth cytomegalovirus to make vaccines by culturing blood from each monkey designated as a source of kidney tissue for vaccine production including performing PCR and viral cultures to test for the presence of stealth virus.


Martin and his colleagues concluded their appeal to the FDA to give them a six-month grant to fund their work with these words: FDA is responsible for the safety of biological products including vaccines and the Nation's blood supply. As described in the Appendix to this proposal, stealth viruses have been associated with severe neurological illnesses. It is imperative that the issue of the potential prior transfer of pathogenic stealth viruses into humans be addressed. This proposal will provide much needed data to assess the overall prevalence of stealth viral infection and the proportion of these infections attributed to a cytomegalovirus derived stealth virus of African green monkey origin. The proposal is also an important step towards ensuring that future vaccine lots are free of stealth viruses. The findings will also have bearing on the possible need to screen blood donors for the presence of stealth viruses."


A major goal of Martin's research is to not only identify individuals who are infected but to develop antiviral therapies which can interrupt the activation of a stealth virus in infected but symptomless individuals as well as help those who are already exhibiting mild to severe symptoms. Martin maintains that stealth viruses, whether of animal or human origin, may also play a role yet to be identified in other illnesses such as arteriosclerosis, autoimmune thyroid disease, gastrointestinal and kidney disease, infertility and cancer. He and his colleagues are working on isolating a genetically engineered component of the stealth virus which an infected individual could take orally to inhibit its activation and growth.


In a continuing effort to collect information from parents of children as well as adults who have been adversely affected by vaccines, the National Vaccine Information Center will expand the scope of its 1 4-year old vaccine reaction registry and begin collecting information and providing referrals to those who are suffering from unexplained neurological, psychiatric and autoimmune disorder symptoms that are potentially related to stealth virus infection. Parents of children or adults who are exhibiting symptoms such as those described in this newsletter and who want to be included in NVIC's registry will be sent a questionnaire to fill out. To register and obtain a questionnaire, write to Vaccine Reaction Registry, NVIC, 512 W. Maple Ave., Suite 206, Vienna, VA 22180. Please include a $5 donation to cover processing and data entry costs.

Once the questionnaire is returned, NVIC can offer assistance to registrars on how they can follow-up and be tested for stealth virus infection and, additionally, determine whether they should or would like to consider becoming part of the stealth virus research laboratory test database being developed by the USC lab.

NVIC is also expanding its 14-year old support network to help stealth virus positive individuals to communicate with each other to exchange information as well as become active in the promotion of research to develop therapies and prevent infection.

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