ME/CFS International Awareness Day

Florence Nightingale Statue

May 12 honors the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing. In 1860, she established the Nightingale Training School, despite being virtually bedridden with an illness resembling ME/CFS or fibromyalgia.

Prioritizing Patient Care

May 12 is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) International Awareness Day. On this important day, we recognize and support the millions of people who suffer from ME/CFS and other chronic immunological and neurologic diseases by raising awareness and providing education. ME/CFS is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. People with ME/CFS suffer from severe fatigue, post-exertional malaise or PEM (worsening of symptoms after physical or emotional exertion that would have been tolerated before illness), sleep problems, pain, and other symptoms.

What’s New for ME/CFS Patients

CDC has developed a new Patient Toolkit to help people with ME/CFS, their families, and their caregivers prepare for and manage doctor visits. These resources describe the symptoms of ME/CFS in detail and provide information that’s needed before, during, and after a visit to a healthcare provider. People with ME/CFS can use the new checklist to help guide conversations with doctors. A new fillable chart can help keep track of the medications and supplements they take. This toolkit is also available in Spanish.

CDC also continues to feature the experience of people with ME/CFS through its Voices of the Patient series. Read the most recent addition, Max’s story, in her own words.

New Medical Student Resources

Educating medical students will help ensure the next generation of healthcare providers are better equipped to diagnose and care for people with ME/CFS. Medical students can familiarize themselves with ME/CFS by using CDC web resources, such as the new Healthcare Provider Toolkit. They now have an easy one-stop-shop in CDC’s new ME/CFS web page for medical, nursing, and allied health students. Students can visit the web page to learn about ME/CFS through videos, a case study, continuing medical education, patient stories, and more. Medical students can share these resources with their schools and peers to start a dialogue and bring awareness to this debilitating disease.

ME/CFS and COVID-19: What We Know

CDC has been working to learn more about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the health effects it has on people. As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, it’s become clear that some people who have had COVID-19 might not recover right away. Instead, they develop a longer-lasting illness (called post-COVID conditions). Many of the symptoms people with post-COVID conditions report include severe fatigue, headaches, brain fog, sleeping difficulties, and anxiety or depression.

Learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19 can help researchers understand ME/CFS, and what we know about ME/CFS may help people with long COVID. Currently, there are limited data and information. CDC is actively working with our partners to better understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 and find ways to help people with long COVID.

5 Ways to Observe ME/CFS International Awareness Day

Join CDC this year in supporting the ME/CFS community.

  1. Wear blue to raise awareness. Show support for people with ME/CFS, their families and caregivers, and researchers who study ME/CFS by wearing blue on May 12.
  2. Spread the word on social media. Share information about ME/CFS to help educate your followers. Retweet CDC messages, and use the hashtag #MECFSAwareness.
  3. Attend a virtual event. Look for local online events in your community.
  4. Share your personal stories. If you or a loved one is living with ME/CFS, share your story with neighbors and friends.
  5. Learn more. Check out the links under “More Information,” and share what you learn with family and friends.

More Information on ME/CFS

More Information on Long-Term Effects of COVID-19