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If diseases like AIDS and bird flu scare you, wait until you hear what’s next. Doctors are trying to find out what is causing a bizarre and mysterious infection that’s surfaced in South Texas.
Morgellons disease is not yet known to kill, but if you were to get it, you might wish you were dead, as the symptoms are horrible. “These people will have like beads of sweat but it’s black, black and tarry,” said Ginger Savely, a nurse practioner in Austin who treats a majority of these patients. Patients get lesions that never heal. “Sometimes little black specks that come out of the lesions and sometimes little fibers,” said Stephanie Bailey, Morgellons patient. Patients say that’s the worst symptom — strange fibers that pop out of your skin in different colors. “He’d have attacks and fibers would come out of his hands and fingers, white, black and sometimes red. Very, very painful,” said Lisa Wilson, whose son Travis had Morgellon’s disease.
While all of this is going on, it feels like bugs are crawling under your skin. So far more than 100 cases of Morgellons disease have been reported in South Texas. “It really has the makings of a horror movie in every way,” Savely said.
While Savely sees this as a legitimate disease, there are many doctors who simply refuse to acknowledge it exists, because of the bizarre symptoms patients are diagnosed as delusional. “Believe me, if I just randomly saw one of these patients in my office, I would think they were crazy too,” Savely said. “But after you’ve heard the story of over 100 (patients) and they’re all — down to the most minute detail — saying the exact same thing, that becomes quite impressive.”
WND Exclusive SCIENCENETDAILY
Scientists debate cause of feared 'worms-under-skin' disease
Victims complain of inflammation, lesions, fatigue
Posted: May 15, 2008
10:25 pm Eastern
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
Lesions on person suffering from Morgellons disease
Scientists are debating whether a debilitating condition called Morgellons disease could be caused by bacteria or fungus on plants in California, Texas and Florida, though many agree that research is leaving them with more questions than answers.
While there are many unfounded theories about the cause of Morgellons disease, including alien abduction and government conspiracies, some have attempted to draw a link between the mysterious illness and genetically modified food by suggesting engineered crops may contain bacterium responsible for the disease.
What is Morgellons disease?
Dr. Vitaly Citovsky of the Morgellons Research Foundation said the condition has many reported symptoms that have virtually stumped scientists.
"Generally, people complain of an appearance of fibers in their skin," he told WND. "It itches. There's some inflammation, skin lesions, and they complain that it generally affects their well-being with fatigue similar to Lyme disease. Some people complain of psychological conditions. We cannot define it precisely."
Other commonly reported symptoms include:
* Multi-colored fiber-like strands or crystals protruding out of skin
* A feeling of parasites or worms crawling under skin
* Black specks in lesions that do not heal
* Joint swelling and/or hair loss
* Memory loss or general brain fog with difficulty concentrating
The Morgellons Research Foundation reported that approximately 10,000 U.S. families with Morgellons symptoms registered with the organization prior to February 2007. Of all individuals reporting, 24 percent lived in California, and a disproportionate number resided in the San Francisco metropolitan area.
Magnified image of fibers from Morgellons sufferer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Jan. 16 statement indicating that Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Division of Research has received a $338,000 grant to to learn more about Morgellons, an affliction it refers to as a "skin condition."
However, Dr. Ahmed Kilani, president and CEO of Clongen Laboratories and a specialist in infectious disease detection, told WND the illness is much more than a mere skin condition.
"It spreads between individuals," he said. "Unlike infection, this is something much more serious. People die from complications because the disease is more than skin deep. It's not just a skin condition that causes lesions. It goes into the stomach and impacts the G.I. tract and causes brain conditions."
Health authorities said they are baffled by a mysterious and controversial skin condition called Morgellons disease, which some have called a plague, and which has appeared in a cluster of cases in North Texas.
Cheryall Spiller said she moves much slower than she once did because of the mystery disease she said torments her.
"Small white worms that come out of my ears, you can feel them itching in there," she said. "You can get a Q-tip and dig them out."
Stephanie Bailey said she is plagued by Morgellons, too.
"Sometimes little black specks...come out of the lesions and sometimes little fibers," she said.
The disease looks like sores or scabs, but under a microscope, tiny and painful fibers of different colors pop out of the lesions.
"It sounds a little like a parasite, like a fungal infection [or] like a bacterial infection," said Ginger Savely, an Austin nurse practitioner. "But it never quite fits all the criteria of any known pathogen."
Savely has treated over 100 patients, including many from North Texas. Patients have often been turned away by doctors or told the disease is all in their minds.
In fact, many doctors don't believe Morgellons is real.
"I am 100 percent convinced that Morgellons is a real disease pathology," said Dr. Randy Wymore, an assistant professor of pharmacology and physiology at OSU.
Morgellons (also called Morgellons disease or Morgellons syndrome) is a name given in 2002 by lab technician Mary Leitao to a proposed condition characterized by a range of cutaneous (skin) symptoms including crawling, biting, and stinging sensations; finding fibers on or under the skin; and persistent skin lesions (e.g., rashes or sores), initially in her son. Despite the lack of evidence that it is a distinct condition, or any agreed set of diagnostic symptoms, a large number of individuals have self-diagnosed with the condition and, motivated by a widespread lack of acceptance in the medical community, have used political means to attempt to have the condition recognised.
The U.S government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it is not known at present whether the condition represents a new disease entity, or whether persons who identify themselves as having Morgellons have a common cause for their symptoms, share common risk factors, or are contagious. Many health professionals, including dermatologists, regard Morgellons as a manifestation of other known medical conditions, including delusional parasitosis but this opinion is not conclusive or unanimous.
It came (the name Morgellons) from a 1674 medical paper that described symptoms somewhat like Morgellons, Leitao said. "I never expected it (the name) to stick," she said.
A forensic scientist at the Tulsa Police Crime Lab in Oklahoma searched the FBI's national database, but the Morgellons sample did not match any known fiber in the database. Lab director Mark Boese said the fibers were "consistent with something that the body may be producing," adding, "These fibers cannot be manmade and do not come from a plant. This could be a byproduct of a biological organism."