Morgellons: Mystery Illness or Delusional Parasitosis?

SHAYBARSABE

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I experienced this phenomenon once (and only once, thank goodness).

I was about 13-years old. It was the middle of the day, and I was sitting at a wooden desk by myself in some lecture class. All of a sudden, my right wrist, which was on the desk began to hurt and itch and sting. Then the pain stopped, and I lifted my hand. There on the desk were red, blue, and semi-transparent fibres, the longest being about an inch.

I looked at my wrist: nothing there, no wound--nothing; but, I knew those fibers had come out of my wrist. That was 50 years ago.

I blew the fibers off the desk, pretended to be sick, and got a pass to leave the school.

Fungi would not surprise me.
 

Mythopoeika

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Wow, that's weird. :shock:
 

Moooksta

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Morgellons: In the mind or in the skin?

Mods: if there's a thread for this apologies.

Morgellons are small coloured fibres that burrow into your skin apparently. They are not animal, vegetable or mineral. Joni Mitchell suffers from it. There's a theory that they're from outer space and are in fact an alien infection.

The medical profession believes it be a new name for an old disease which is psychological and spread through mass hysteria. Which is what I'm more prone to believe: a physical manifestation of a psychological disorder.

It's an interesting read and I'll not quote it all but I'll post the link and quote the bit that made me go :shock:

Guardian 7th May Morgellons: A hidden epidemic or mass hysteria?

The next day, nursing practitioner Dr Ginger Savely, who claims to have treated more than 500 morgellons patients, leads an informal discussion in the conference room. Around large circular tables sit the dismissed and the angry. "I've seen a fibre go into my glasses," says one. "I've seen one burrow into a pad," adds another. "One of my doctors thinks it's nanotechnology";

WARNING: YOU MAY START TO ITCH READING IT!
 

Mythopoeika

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That link was posted on the Morgellons thread recently.
 

sonofajoiner

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A small-scale study of people who believe they have Morgellons shows, you know, that they don't.

An infestation that begins in the mind
Self-described sufferers of Morgellons disease say their skin is infested with mysterious parasites, and they demanded a government study. The Mayo Clinic concludes the symptoms are often delusional

They complain of mysterious, creepy symptoms: bugs — or some form of infestation — crawling beneath their skin, sometimes burrowing to the surface, leaving odd specks and colored filaments in their wake.

They have flocked to websites to share details of their malady, which they call Morgellons disease; they have charged the medical community with ignoring their plight and have strong-armed the government into studying it.

They go from doctor to doctor, carrying specimens in Ziploc bags and on glass slides, desperate to find a physical cause.

Now a Mayo Clinic study reviewing samples provided by 108 such patients, published Monday in the Archives of Dermatology, has concluded that the perceived infestation exists only in their minds.

Although one patient who consulted dermatologists for Morgellons was found to have pubic lice, microscopic examination showed that none of the remaining 107 patients — who were seen over a seven-year period ending in 2007 — had any evidence of infestation by bugs or parasites, despite their firm conviction that they did.

Instead, the authors concluded, the rashes, eruptions and skin ulcerations patients suffered were either mundane skin conditions that gave rise to delusions of infestation, or the result of sufferers scratching or picking at their skin to make it go away.

And the fibers and filaments so often described and offered as evidence of infestation were, upon microscopic examination, skin flakes, scabs, hair, lint, textile fiber and everyday debris.

Two fruit flies, which do not colonize the human body, were found, as well as one mite and one tick.

The review of patients' records from the Mayo Clinic is the first major study to conclude that a seeming outbreak of subcutaneous creepy-crawlies is not evidence of a new pathogen abroad in the land: rather, patients suffering such symptoms more likely have a psychological disorder long described in dermatological literature as "delusional parasitosis."

"This study is important for patients," the authors wrote. "Patients frequently believe that physicians are dismissive of their concerns and are not examining their skin closely enough, and therefore patients request that more testing be performed. This showed that biopsy results do not change a physician's clinical diagnosis of delusional infestation."

Results of another, three-year study, undertaken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, are slated for release in the next few months. That study was launched in January 2008 after patients and a small group of medical professionals led by an organization called the Morgellons Research Foundation advocated for a full-scale government investigation of their symptoms.

The CDC and Kaiser scientists conducted skin biopsies, physical and psychiatric evaluations of sufferers and microscopic analysis of samples. The findings are now under review by independent experts.

"We recognize it has taken time, and people and their families are suffering, but at same time, it's important to release these findings appropriately and to ensure their scientific integrity," said CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell.

The Mayo Clinic findings are certain to be bitter medicine for patients who identify themselves as sufferers of Morgellons disease. The Internet is home to a growing community of patients certain that their symptoms are evidence of a new and very real disorder. Study lead author Dr. Mark D.P. Davis, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, said he doubted the study would convince such patients that their disease originates in their brains and not under their skin.

"They feel you're still missing something even if you've gone the extra mile," Davis said.

Several board members and a spokesperson for the Morgellons Research Foundation could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, praised the Mayo work as "the best study done to date" on the bizarre constellation of symptoms called Morgellons. He commended the Mayo researchers "for putting in the effort to understand a disease that's becoming more and more important in our culture today."

At the same time, Craft cautioned that dermatologists and primary-care physicians who see patients with similar complaints should not automatically conclude, based on the study, that they are all delusional.

"Infrequently, we do find real bugs. So everybody gets their due diligence," he said. And, he added, taking a patient's complaints seriously will often help him or her take the next step in cases where a physical cause of their agony cannot be found.

"I have a growing numbers of patients who respond really well to medicines that treat the brain," he said. "I know it's frustrating, but I often encourage them to try it if we can't get to a diagnosis."

LA Times
(via gawker.com)

But as one of the comments underneath the article points out, the article doesn't mention whether the issue of the 'fibres' patients claim to find growing out of the skin is addressed by the study.
 

SHAYBARSABE

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An infestation that begins in the mind
...textile fiber...

I think this should be of come concern since most of our textiles are plastics or a combination of plastic and natural.
 

EnolaGaia

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Here's the documentation of the study that was still pending as of the last postings ...

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Ad ... ne.0029908

The abstract:

Background

Morgellons is a poorly characterized constellation of symptoms, with the primary manifestations involving the skin. We conducted an investigation of this unexplained dermopathy to characterize the clinical and epidemiologic features and explore potential etiologies.

Methods

A descriptive study was conducted among persons at least 13 years of age and enrolled in Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) during 2006–2008. A case was defined as the self-reported emergence of fibers or materials from the skin accompanied by skin lesions and/or disturbing skin sensations. We collected detailed epidemiologic data, performed clinical evaluations and geospatial analyses and analyzed materials collected from participants' skin.

Results

We identified 115 case-patients. The prevalence was 3.65 (95% CI = 2.98, 4.40) cases per 100,000 enrollees. There was no clustering of cases within the 13-county KPNC catchment area (p = .113). Case-patients had a median age of 52 years (range: 17–93) and were primarily female (77%) and Caucasian (77%). Multi-system complaints were common; 70% reported chronic fatigue and 54% rated their overall health as fair or poor with mean Physical Component Scores and Mental Component Scores of 36.63 (SD = 12.9) and 35.45 (SD = 12.89), respectively. Cognitive deficits were detected in 59% of case-patients and 63% had evidence of clinically significant somatic complaints; 50% had drugs detected in hair samples and 78% reported exposure to solvents. Solar elastosis was the most common histopathologic abnormality (51% of biopsies); skin lesions were most consistent with arthropod bites or chronic excoriations. No parasites or mycobacteria were detected. Most materials collected from participants' skin were composed of cellulose, likely of cotton origin.

Conclusions

This unexplained dermopathy was rare among this population of Northern California residents, but associated with significantly reduced health-related quality of life. No common underlying medical condition or infectious source was identified, similar to more commonly recognized conditions such as delusional infestation.
 

EnolaGaia

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... And here's a summary overview from LiveScience:

Mysterious Skin Condition 'Morgellons' Not Contagious, Study Says
Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer
Date: 25 January 2012 Time: 05:28 PM ET

The cause of a mysterious condition that haunts its sufferers with sensations of crawling bugs and fibrous material embedded in the skin may be one step closer to being found, a new study suggests.

The condition, commonly referred to as Morgellons, does not appear to be contagious, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This alleviates concerns about the condition being contagious between family members and others," said Mark Eberhard, Director of CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria.

People with Morgellons report having symptoms manifesting on their skin. These include non-healing skin lesions, the emergence of fibers or solid material from the skin, and disturbing sensations, such as crawling, stinging or biting. Some patients report fatigue, memory loss and a substantial decline in quality of life, according to the study.

The study was undertaken after the CDC received a number of calls over the last 10 years with reports of the condition, Eberhard said.

"We had no idea what it was or might be," Eberhard told MyHealthNewsDaily. "We felt very compelled to do something. It was quite clear that people were suffering."
The report still does not identify a cause of the condition, and Morgellons is not recognized as a distinct medical disorder. However, by ruling out an infectious cause, researchers have begun to narrow down what health care providers need to look for when patients report signs of the condition, Eberhard said. And it's likely that different factors contribute to individual cases.

"I don’t think there's going to be a single diagnosis that will fit across the spectrum of it," Eberhard said.

Unexplained disease

Eberhard and colleagues identified 109 patients with this condition by searching the electronic medical record database of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California. The researchers estimate the condition is rare, found in about four out of every 100,000 people.

Patients were put through a battery of tests to identify possible causes, including a medical exam, skin biopsies and psychiatric and blood testing. Fibers and solid material was extracted from the patients' wounds, and their composition was examined.

"There's been a great deal of fixation, on everybody's part, with those fibers," Eberhard said. Previous reports included patients bringing fibers they said had emerged from their skin to their doctors, but "there was no way to validate, scientifically, where the fibers came from," Eberhard said.

The researchers concluded the fibers were coming from external sources, mostly from cotton. Fibers from clothing or carpet may become stuck in an open wound before it clots over, and appear to be coming from the wound, Eberhard said.
The majority of patients were middle-age white women. About half had evidence of other medical conditions, mostly psychiatric illnesses. Also, about half of patients were found to have been using drugs, including amphetamines, opiates and cocaine, according to the study.

Most of the lesions had the appearance of wounds caused by scratching, Eberhard said. Other potential causes for some of the cases include eczema and bug bites.
Seeking help

Eberhard emphasized that the study cannot say whether certain factors, including drug use and scratching, are a cause or an effect of the condition.

People who suspect they have Morgellons should speak with their health care provider, Eberhard said. Eberhard recommends that both the patient and doctor keep an open mind about the diagnosis.

However, "we would propose that they not focus on an infectious cause, or an environmental link," Eberhard said.

Although no treatment for Morgellons is available, patients should be given standard therapies for any co-occurring conditions they may have, the researchers say. In addition, patients may benefit from therapies used to treat psychiatric conditions with similar symptoms.

The study is published today (Jan. 25) in the online journal PLoS ONE.

SOURCE: http://www.livescience.com/18123-morgel ... gious.html
 

Cochise

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Also, about half of patients were found to have been using drugs, including amphetamines, opiates and cocaine, according to the study.

And LSD, perhaps? I'm not being sniffy, I took drugs in my youth, but it seems to me that its a pretty good explanation.
 

Dingo667

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Anyone who reads about Morgellons and looks at the photos will think immediately that those things are from clothes or whatever, exactly what was said in the second report. I am one of them.
However!
However there are images with very long strings of fibres curled up within the skin, which make that explanation somewhat half-a*sed. Also the fact that not all sufferers can be idiot morons [which you have to be if the explanation is so simple and you keep telling someone that the fibres come from within], I think this is a lazy study. Also when I have scratched myself so much that there are wounds [I remember my Chickenpox when I was 19] in the past, there were no fibres in my wounds. Of course I had occasions were I could find fibres but those were rare and never doubted that they came from my clothes.

They tested a few hundred people who were happy to take part but again, that is not a lot of people. I am sure that amongst the sufferers are highly intelligent people, who still stand by their observations. I also believe that those with more than one braincell have tried not to cover the wounds with cotton clothing or wrapped them up and still got fibres in them. I can't find any explanation if tests to this extent were made. How about keeping someone in a dust/cotton/fibre free environment for a week and then check their wounds etc. Also I believe that not all samples were tested [and I mean absolutely all samples], this would cost too much time and money for something nobody believes in.

Having worked in science for so many years, I can say that "one study doesn't make an answer". As a matter of fact some studies will conclude that all is rubbish until another comes along saying it isn't.

Also it states that "most fibres found are cotton" [in the first report] but it doesn't explain what the rest of them are. In the second report they mention carpets etc but to me this is not a proper report. I want to see the exact results.

I am still not made up on Morgellons either way. However these tests seem to be made to shut people up rather than to find out anything properly. I will give the people who suffer from the disease the benefit of the doubt [at least those that are not on drugs and are of normal intelligence] until they do proper tests.

Have I mentioned that I looooove news about this disease, its one of the few mysteries out there... :twisted:
 

rynner2

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Joni Mitchell in 'intensive care' in Los Angeles hospital
1 April 2015

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is in intensive care after being found unconscious at her Los Angeles home.
She was rushed to hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
A statement released on her website said she "regained consciousness on the ambulance ride to an LA area hospital".
The eight-time Grammy winner was "currently in intensive care undergoing tests and is awake and in good spirits," it added.

Los Angeles fire officials said paramedics had answered a 911 call in Bel Air, where Mitchell lives, and had taken a patient whom they did not identify to hospital.

In December she told Billboard magazine that she had a rare skin condition, Morgellons disease, which prevented her from performing.
"I can't sing any more - don't miss it. I can't play any more - don't miss it. I've got all these instruments laying around and hopefully one day I'll pick them up," she was quoted as saying.

Morgellons is a controversial condition and is not recognised by mainstream medical authorities. Sufferers say it is characterised by crawling and stinging sensations under the skin but many in the medical community believe it is a psychiatric disorder.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-32142332

I suspect I may have a mild case of Morgellons- my skin has been in a right confused state for years.
 

Mythopoeika

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I may have Morgellons too - because I get crawling and stinging sensations all over. Mind you, I don't get the multicoloured fibres sprouting from my skin.
 

ramonmercado

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Public entomologists struggle with an epidemic of delusional parasitosis

Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren't inquiring about actual insects, they're suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they're desperate and even suicidal.

Nancy Hinkle, a colleague of Gale's, professor of veterinary entomology at the University of Georgia in Athens, estimates that she spends "a couple of hours every day" dealing with "the invisible bugs."

The entomologists' jobs are confounded by the possibility that the weird "bugs" aren't delusional. The world of arthropods is sufficiently weird that it's hard to rule out a rare or unknown bug causing mischief; not to mention the complications of industrial de-humidifiers that make "the room buzz with static electricity" that feels like bugs crawling on your skin. Then there are the well-meaning MDs who mistake their patients' scratch-marks for bug bites.

The entomologists have learned to stage interventions with their "clients'" families, bringing them together to explain the realities of insect behavior, to bring them to the gradual understanding that their problems are real, but the bugs are not. ...

https://boingboing.net/2017/03/24/infestations-of-the-mind.html
 

Naughty_Felid

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Public entomologists struggle with an epidemic of delusional parasitosis

Dr Gale Ridge is a public entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, where an average of 23 people a day call, write or visit; an increasing proportion of them aren't inquiring about actual insects, they're suffering from delusional parasitosis, and they're desperate and even suicidal.

Nancy Hinkle, a colleague of Gale's, professor of veterinary entomology at the University of Georgia in Athens, estimates that she spends "a couple of hours every day" dealing with "the invisible bugs."

The entomologists' jobs are confounded by the possibility that the weird "bugs" aren't delusional. The world of arthropods is sufficiently weird that it's hard to rule out a rare or unknown bug causing mischief; not to mention the complications of industrial de-humidifiers that make "the room buzz with static electricity" that feels like bugs crawling on your skin. Then there are the well-meaning MDs who mistake their patients' scratch-marks for bug bites.

The entomologists have learned to stage interventions with their "clients'" families, bringing them together to explain the realities of insect behavior, to bring them to the gradual understanding that their problems are real, but the bugs are not. ...

https://boingboing.net/2017/03/24/infestations-of-the-mind.html

I struggle with sticking Morgellons with the axis two classical drug/alcohol-induced Parasitosis. I'm speculating but I've always wondered if there is an environmental thing going on.

Saying that there have been some success with treating Morgellons with Pimozide which is an anti-psychotic.

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1121818-medication

edit a better article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5038112/

Anyone know how true this is? http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026445180 Joni Mitchell diagnosed with Morgellons.
 

OneWingedBird

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Found this interesting - Formication

Formication is the medical term for a sensation that exactly resembles that of small insects crawling on (or under) the skin. It is one specific form of a set of sensations known as paresthesias, which also include the more common prickling, tingling sensation known as "pins and needles". Formication is a well documented symptom, which has numerous possible causes. The word is derived from formica, the Latin word for ant.

Formication may sometimes be experienced as feelings of itchiness, tingling, pins and needles, burning, or even pain. When formication is perceived as itchiness, it may trigger the scratch reflex, and because of this, some people who are suffering from the sensation are at risk of causing skin damage through excessive scratching.

In some instances, static electricity can attract particulates to the skin and can also cause body hair to move, giving a sensation like insects crawling over the skin.[1] However, in many cases no external trigger creates the sensation.

In rare cases, individuals become convinced that the sensation they are suffering is due to the presence of real insects on or under the skin. In these cases, patients have what is known as delusional parasitosis. They believe that their skin is inhabited by, or under attack by, small insects or similar parasites, despite repeated reassurances from physicians, pest control experts, and entomologists.[2]

Causes of formication include normal states such as onset of menopause (i.e. hormone withdrawal). Other causes are medical conditions such as pesticide exposure,[3] mercury poisoning, diabetic neuropathy, skin cancer, syphilis, Lyme disease or herpes zoster (shingles).[2] Formication can be a result of stimulant intoxication (e.g. methamphetamines, cocaine)[4] or alcohol withdrawal in alcoholics (i.e. delirium tremens), and is often accompanied by visual hallucinations of insects (formicanopia).[2] It can also occur as a symptom of benzodiazepine withdrawal and as a side effect of opioid analgesics.

My first thought here was that mercury poisoning also tends to include symptoms of mental illness, also mercury is a key component in energy saving bulbs

Special handling instructions for breakage are not printed on the packaging of household CFL bulbs in many countries. The amount of mercury released by one bulb can temporarily exceed U.S. federal guidelines for chronic exposure.[79][80] Chronic, however, implies exposure for a significant time, and it remains unclear what the health risks are from short-term exposure to low levels of elemental mercury.[80] Despite following EPA best-practice clean-up guidelines on broken CFLs, researchers were unable to remove mercury from carpet, and agitation of the carpet — such as by young children playing — created localized concentrations as high as 0.025 mg/m3 in air close to the carpet, even weeks after the initial breakage.[80]

There is a cap on the legal level of mercury in the bulbs, no idea how well it's enforced though or if suspect imports of perhaps Chinese made bulbs get through.

Just a bit of food for though.
 

Mythopoeika

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I suffer from very sensitive skin. Every day, I get the feeling that I've been bitten by a tiny insect and I have to scratch it.
As this has happened to me all my life and I haven't yet seen an insect (ever) that might be responsible, I can only conclude that it's my skin that is the problem. Perhaps a tiny capillary blood vessel failing momentarily or something.
I have this condition on my shins and upper surface of my feet that has been explained by a diabetic specialist nurse. Essentially, it's caused by tiny blood vessels leaking a minute amount of blood into the upper skin layers - whereupon it heals, leaving a visible rust 'tattoo' in place. Whenever these blood vessels go, it feels like the 'insect bites' that I've experienced on other parts of my face and body...so I'm wondering if that is the explanation.
 

Naughty_Felid

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Found this interesting - Formication





My first thought here was that mercury poisoning also tends to include symptoms of mental illness, also mercury is a key component in energy saving bulbs



There is a cap on the legal level of mercury in the bulbs, no idea how well it's enforced though or if suspect imports of perhaps Chinese made bulbs get through.

Just a bit of food for though.


Brilliant - never heard of it, thanks for the post.
 

uair01

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There's a YouTube video featuring a weird group and also someone with Morgellons disease, clearly imaginary:
 

Aether Blue

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It's a tricky situation.

On the one hand, fibers tend to stick to the exudates around wounds, and delusional parasitosis certainly occurs.

On the other hand, it would be hubristic to assume that we know the causes of all illness, and that completely novel afflictions cannot arise.

In an ideal world we might throw resources at the problem until a definitive solution is found, but in practice many understudied and underfunded illnesses need resources too. I don't envy the people trying to do the triage.
 
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