In the 1970s we started speaking about “smouldering viruses” (I lived in the UK then, so spelled it that way!); also sometimes referred to as “slow viruses”. This meant sub-clinical virus opportunists that got under the radar of the immune system and couldn’t be dislodged.

Instead, they hung on and lingered, often for the entire lifetime of infected individuals, setting up chronic, damaging inflammation throughout the body. Diseases of aging and autoimmunity (see below), such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many other deadly ailments have been linked to chronic stealth infections.

Once again, it was the clinical ecologists and alternative community who first spotted what was going on. We were open to think laterally and outside the box.

We started to talk about “post-viral fatigue syndrome”, since the debility would not go away after the acute infectious episode. Fibromyalgia (ME in Europe) is typical of the pattern of symptoms for post-viral syndrome. Attention to allergies and intolerance often aided recovery a great deal. This pointed to a disordered immune response. But in my 1988 book The Allergy Handbook, I began asking “Is it not that we get the viruses because the immune system is poor or incompetent, rather than we get the immune dysfunction because of the virus?” I started thinking along the lines that environmental toxins debilitate the immune system, which then leads to the stealth virus. I have not been proved wrong. We just don’t know.

Since those early years, so-called stealth-adapted viruses have been recovered from multiple tissues, including blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, throat swabs, breast milk, brain biopsies and tumor samples from patients with various neurological, psychiatric, auto-immune, allergic and cancerous diseases.

So this is a serious issue. And it is not confined to viruses.

Examples of neurological illnesses which could have this sort of basis include autism, attention deficit and behavioral disorders in children; depression, schizophrenia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig), multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia in adults; and neurodegenerative illnesses in the elderly, such as Shy-Drager and multiple system atrophy.

Examples of the guilty viruses are Epstein-Barr virus, Coxsackie, cytomegalovirus, enterovirus and herpes viruses, notably human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6). Other organisms include mycoplasma, and bacteria, such as Chalamydia pneumoniae (Cpn) and Borrelia bugdorferii (true Lyme disease).

By following individual patients over several years, it has been found that there may be lateral transfer, leading to related but diverse illnesses within a family. Even pets may be affected.

The strange bone disorder called Paget’s disease is now recognized as a “slow” version of the canine distemper virus. The actual disease emerges decades after the initial infection.

Community-wide outbreaks of stealth virus infections have also been observed with individuals showing varying levels of severity and duration of illness. This may be the cause of otherwise unexplainable deaths, and a strange “dumbing” of a whole township, as reflected in the excessive need for special education for its children.

The latter isn’t surprising; it is now known that the stealth viruses can infect almost any organ, but that the brain is especially prone to manifest the effects of even limited localized cellular damage. If this is mixed in with an autoimmune response, the results can be complex and a diagnostic nightmare.

Indeed, I sometimes speculate that the current autism “epidemic” may be due to a stealth virus, as yet undiscovered. Or maybe a mutant version of the measles virus, from the vaccine, which is being spread among the population by mass use of the MMR vaccine.

Of course it is not politically correct to impugn vaccination. But there will be no answer to the autism riddle, till someone asks the right question.

Cancer can now be added to the list of potential stealth virus-associated diseases. The original of this was Burkitt’s lymphoma, named after Denis Burkitt, who discovered it in Africa. Positive stealth virus cultures have been seen in virtually all of the multiple myeloma patients tested, and in several patients presenting with other types of tumors.

A previous history of chronic fatigue in a cancer patient may provide a clue to loss of brain function, suggestive of an underlying stealth virus infection in a cancer patient. It will be interesting to determine the effect of stealth-virus suppressive therapy in such patients. At this time such therapy is not being practiced.

However, preliminary research on mice shows the use of a vaccine against the common cold may have anti-cancer possibilities. This is ironic and relevant; the virus gets into the cancer cell, which allows it to hide from the immune system, and so the virus replicates and kills the host (cancer) cells. So the cold virus is being a “stealth virus” inside the cancer!

Finally, know that a stealth virus uses a novel strategy for replication. It has the capacity to “capture, amplify and mutate” genetic sequences assimilated from infected cells, other viruses and bacteria.

Don’t forget that these “stealth pathogens” also form a part of the troublesome human microbiome, when we come to that. So this messing around with genes is a particularly troublesome aspect of this sneaky infectious nightmare.

Unfortunately, there are no reliable tests to date and stealth pathogens are notorious for imitating other organisms, so their true nature goes often unidentified.

This makes them especially difficult to even study, never mind eliminate.

Be afraid; be very afraid, as the movie trailers say… moo-ha-ha-ha-ha!