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Medical Mystery Disease Makes Peoples' Skin Crawl

  1. May 28, 2006 #1

    Math Is Hard

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    I was just reading about "Morgellons Disease". At first I thought this was a psychotic symptom. I've definitely heard of similar crawling sensations experienced by schizophrenia sufferers.
    But it sounds like there might actually be a strange dermatological condition that these people are suffering from:
    What do you make of this? Purely hallucinations? Or could this be partially or wholly explained by a skin disorder?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2006 #2


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    Dearly Missed

    Ugh, how ghastly. :frown:
  4. May 28, 2006 #3
    To me, it does not sound like the symptoms are defined clearly.

    This could just be physiological and psychological side effects from medications and illegal drugs.

    If there are plant like fibers in these people then there is obviously a physiological basis, which may or not be caused by drugs.

    I can't really say, but it is also possible for psychotherapists to encourage mental patients to make claims that are consistent with their diagnosis or suspected diagnosis. This is very similar to false memory syndrome.
  5. May 28, 2006 #4


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    Someone posted about that on another site I visit, and I'm not yet sure whether it's a real disease or a hoax site. The news article I saw sounded legit, but when I visit the site, it seems really weird. They say it's not ordinary textile fibers, but don't say how they've determined that. The pictures they show just look like ordinary scabs to me, and I can't figure out what's supposed to be unusual at all.

    If it is some sort of psychosis, I'm still wondering why it would be so geographically limited. The first I heard of it, it sounded like the DTs.
  6. May 29, 2006 #5

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    It's very odd how some docs seem to be convinced this is a legitimate skin problem - one even associates it with Lyme Disease. Those "fibers" are really peculiar. I wonder if they cross-reference the samples of fibers from all the patients to see if they are all the same substance. It could be that they are rubbing something into their self-inflicted wounds.

    I read about another doc who effectively "cured" Morgellons patients by putting a cast over the affected area. A few weeks later, he took off their casts, and sure enough the wounds were healed. It seems reasonable that they could "cast-test" all patients in a small area of afflicted skin and see how many that helps.
  7. May 29, 2006 #6


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    This sounds very reminiscent of the Guinea worm. Might it be a plant-based parasite of a similar nature?
  8. May 29, 2006 #7
    After a century of absence in North America lot of hotel guests are reporting bed bug infestations making their skin crawl and itch.


    Crack and Meth addicts also experience the "crawl" under their skin and end up scratching most of their epidermis into a mess of scabs.
  9. Dec 23, 2006 #8
    Morgellons Thoughts

    Many Morgellons symptoms are very similar to those produced by various helminth infestation. The problem is, the only really knowledgeable doctors in most of the Western world on this topic are devoted to research and do not see patients.

    The research is to benefit third world medicine, mostly. Most helminth medications are distributed to those areas, and some to veterinarians in the US, who would lose their license if they were to practice on humans.

    Some worming medications are not available in the US on any basis.

    Due to the influx of outside populations in the US, some consideration is given to re-instating education in nematode parasitology to doctors in the US, but this is a modern ‘consideration’, and the majority of doctors have very little knowledge of these things.

    Humans in the US, when we were an agrarian society, were wormed regularly by their doctors.

    These things, from my research, take a great deal of expertise to detect in a lab, requiring a full time person with constant practice in doing not much else.

    Generally, when a doctor finds that you have not been out of the country and have these biting and squirming symptoms, his sources will tell him a person is delusional. If you have been out of the country, and are very lucky, you may be sent to a place with some experience in dealing with unusual tropical parasites.

    Infectious disease doctors in the US do not deal in esoteric worms. Doctors who are tropical disease specialists generally have a similar practice, but also will administer the required vaccines prior to visiting a foriegn country.

    My advice to a Morgellons sufferer is to take a treck through a rain forest. Go to your doctor and do not mention Morgellons. Say you think you contracted some worm because of the squirming feelings moving around your body.

    That will probably put them on the right track and then they will try to get you in touch with someone, if you are lucky, who knows how to deal with these things.

    Or better yet, when you are in the rain forest area, try to contact a member of doctors without borders.
  10. Dec 23, 2006 #9
    I would concur, doctors in the US would have a hard time diagnosing such a problem. Fibers composed of cellulose seems rather impossible to be formed physiological. Its most likely parasitic. Some type of helminth, nematode, or possibly a photosynthetic protozoa? Maybe a diatom perhaps?
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
  11. Dec 23, 2006 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    As for the veracity of it all, this is what gets my attention

    Is there a mechanism that would cause people all over the nation to suddenly report a common hallucination, or to experience a common neurosis? This seems unlikely unless it gained widespread coverage by the press, but how would this start if isolated reports didn't exist in the first place? Maybe it is just a statistical fluke? Or, perhaps this is some sort of urban legend created by the doctors themselves? The only other thing that makes sense is that there is nothing unusual going on, and the claims of unusual reports going beyond the occasional mental cases are just media hype.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
  12. Dec 24, 2006 #11

    jim mcnamara

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    I'm with Ivan - spontanteous eruption of a disease that that doesn't seem to be associated with a pathogen, is well, something you'd expect to learn about from a tabloid, not a reputable source.

    imaginova.com runs livescience.com (sister of space.com). I can't assign any meaning of the validity of site content to that, maybe someone else can say yay or nay.
  13. Dec 24, 2006 #12
    I am not keen on this idea that if doctors cant understand a condition it is in their head.

    I was treated with an illness and because they couldn't understand it, they said it was in my head and yet i am not mad. I don't do drugs, i am completely sane and i was in agony.

    You get sent to psychologists who actually do nothing and get prescribed anti depressants that do nothing. all they do is numb you.

    The only way they deal with any problems is by talking to you.

    In my case i went to Chinese medicine and i am still recovering now and they actually listened to me. I know you will think i am mad but QI actually does exist, you just dont realise it and you cant prove it because you cant see it. But patients can feel problems with it although doctors wont believe them hence they are classified as 'mad'

    Please don't classify illness as mental.People don't just start imagining things UNLESS they do drugs.
  14. Dec 24, 2006 #13


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    People can see pirate ships in clouds and butterflies in ink blots. Why are you so adamant that nobody in the entire world might see a deadly disease in ordinary symptoms, unless they're taking hallucinogens?

    And, don't forget the fact that the brain can literally create physical symptoms. (Let me repeat that: the brain can literally will into existence real, nonimaginary, physical symptoms)

    (Not to mention the fact that there are illnesses that are not physical, but mental. But I assume you meant to restrict your comment to illnesses with physical symptoms)

    It would be completely irresponsible for a doctor to disregard the possibility that symptoms might be psychosomatic, or even just imagined.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2006
  15. Dec 25, 2006 #14

    but you have to understand, mental problems can be brought upon by physical problems, but people cant understand the physical problem, so they call it mental and yes this does happen.

    it is very easy for psychologists to diagnose anybody with depression and yet they are not suffering from it but actually something else.

    It is very difficult for a patient to explain themselves when they have physical problems as it can lead to mental stress when nobody believes them.

    Lets just get this clear, just because something doesn't show up on a scan doesn't mean they are fine physically.

    The sooner western medicine embraces the idea of qi and meridiens, the better our health system will become.

    To simply say whatever we don't understand is mental is in my opinion a very idiotic and naive philosophy. Why do you think some people die of mysterious illnesses that doctors cant understand. Was it simply the stress that killed them? I know this from 1st hand experience that i had severe illness and no-one believed me as they couldn't see it on a scan yet i couldn't walk and my body was going cold, this obviously led to stress hence they diagnose you with depression yet it wasn't in my head.

    It is the same idea of cancer, i don't believe cancer happens for no reason except if it might be genetic but i honestly believe it is brought on people who don't look after themselves properly.

    I cannot see how one day, someone just imagines something for no reason whatsoever unless it is brought on by drugs and alcohol.

    Even if it is mental, they cant do anything to help, that is the sad thing.
    That is why when people have unexplained illness i strongly recommend people to visit eastern doctors rather than western doctors because at least they try to help where as western doctor will just give you a drug that will numb you, it wont fix the problem.
  16. Dec 25, 2006 #15
    Also not all doctors are responsible, and if you don't fit the category, they simply don't want to know even if you are adamant there is something wrong with you. It is your word against a doctor. Who would you trust, yourself who actually feels the symptoms or a doctor who cant and is adamant there is nothing wrong with you and you are making it up.

    This is a sad truth and this is what makes people go crazy.

    the skin crawling feeling i have had, it feels like ants crawling on you and you feel like scratching yourself.

    it is actually from an imbalance in the circulation and i don't mean vascular.

    The trouble is people grow up being told things that are not true and hence they believe it all their lives and are not open to ideas.

    You know within yourself whether the symptoms have been brought on by something. Only you know as you can feel it.

    I do admit though if you have lack of sleep, this can lead to odd feelings which are mental but then again every case is different.
  17. Oct 25, 2007 #16
    At first it appears as a dematological problem. But if the victim is lucky enough to find a doctor who will work with him to get rid of the lesions, in a short time they will come back, allbeit after the patient and doctor have declared victory.

    The problem, ugly as it sounds, is a nematode infection inside the body. The dermatological symptoms are just that - symptoms. The organism is able to assume a state of dormancy when attacked by a threatening substance, causing many victims to declare a cure, only to acknowledge a re-emergence a month or so later.

    That the CDC, now investigating this, has moved its announcements into their parasitic section is indicating, to me, that they are now on the right track.

    This disorder leaves such an ugly toll on people's lives. Marriages have broken up. Relatives often think the victim is delusional. The person is fearful of meeting and making friends, not knowing whether it is contagious or not. Women fear taking care of their own children. People fear selling a house that they believe is infested with something.

    And, initially, the victim, having no experience with these things, does think that he is being bitten by bugs in the outside environment, but ones that he cannot see, so he researches into different sorts of mites, etc, to try to fight it. He/she becomes fastidious in cleaning the house, sometimes even removing carpeting where bugs can nest. Some boil their clothing, thinking the high temperatures will kill whatever it is.

    The one thing that seems to help is the use of worming meds, but they do not work in a few easy applications as the instructions would indicate. If some of these meds are taken too frequently, liver or kidney damage may be done. Some medical people have given certain worming drugs in this manner, with the mentioned damage occurring.

    In this country, the state of the art worming meds are often sold through veteranary sources, for livestock. The current drug fenbendazole, in the dosage per lb used for horses, taken almost daily, seems to at least control this thing (perhaps killing it over years) - another evidence that this is a worm infestation of some sort. Fortunately, this drug is only toxic at very high levels compared with most of the others.

    Many vermicidal drugs are manufactured in the US but are illegal in this country, not even given to doctors. Some require special requests by a physician to the CDC. Those drugs (illegal here because worms seem to adapt rather rapidly to new drugs, making them useless - and leaving our cattle ranchers complaining about being left with no means to combat this vermin carried in our food supply) are usually sent to countrys such as Egypt, where cutting edge research is being done.

    I would advise the avoidance of steak tartar.

    So the side issues of this infestation, of self imposed or forced social isolation, of being rejected by the very medical profession that you are to turn to for assistance as well as, perhaps those closest to you, can be mentally debilitating. Couple this with the actual constant itching, squirming and biting, causing many sleepless nights, and trying to perhaps hold on to a job through all this - I can understand thoughts of suicide.

    Just the idea that a person is harboring colonies of worms within him for which there is too much for some to bear.

    In such desperation, some turn to the internet, and self medication, and actually find some relief.

    It is understandable that some actually deluded people attach themselves to 'mystery' disease communities.

    I think people, down through the ages, have had similar problems, but there was no internet to allow them to find and speak with each other. I think the term, Morgellons, may be dropped once researchers identify the organism/s causing the condition.
  18. Dec 7, 2007 #17


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    How do these nematodes get into the body, and how come this (mystery) illness is so wide spread?
  19. Dec 7, 2007 #18
    I am not an expert in anything related to this field.

    I have spoken to an overseas medical researcher who has refuted the American medical claim that people cannot get worms in the US with the comment that the constant migration of various populations all over the globe, peoples everywhere are susceptible to practically everything.

    A specialist in parasites, per se, would not necessarily have much knowledge in worms. It is a very specialized study within a specialized field, and no wonder to me at all that information of such things has not trickled down to our local doctors.

    There was a cluster population study done which found the bulk of cases were in states right over the Mexican border and then fanning out in spots from there.

    My thought is that our cattle are so poorly inspected, and I am sure that they do not detect worm eggs in the muscle, that I really would be sure my meat were frozen for a time and well cooked.

    THere are vastly more worms existing than are the ones that we have named and categorized. Sometimes people who do see these cases daily will end up killing them without knowing exactly what they were.

    Helminths become resistant to drugs aimed at killing them rather quickly. I have seen sights in which US farmers are complaining that there are drugs that are only available to certain facilities overseas, drugs which are manufactured in the US, and the farmers cannot get these to cure their cattle, whose infestations are resistant to the drugs which are available in the US.

    The problem is that when an animal is given a bout of a drug there is often no guaranteed way of knowing that all the eggs are gotten be the drug. For some worms there is no one drug that will kill them in all of their lifecycle.

    But the farmer gives the drug as instructed. Most of those drugs can cause liver damage if given for too long a period. The eggs that make it through eventually hatch and have a certain probability of being drug resistant.

    The farmer thinks the animal has just picked up a fresh batch of worms from the environment, but in order to be drug resistant I think they must have had contact with the drug or their antecedants did.

    So drug resistance seems inevitable, which is probably why the CDC has some drugs that can only be given to doctors who individually ask permission for use of same, and other drugs are not ever legal in this country, but only in some place such as Egypt, where some of the leading research is being done on such problems.

    I did read that Tulane University was doing work with liver flukes after it was discovered that they may be the cause of liver cancer. You understand that some worms are considered somewhat normal and harmless to be in the body. Liver flukes were once in this category. Also, there are researchers from this school who are coupled with some in Australia working with China and trying to develop a vaccine to protect the Chinese from worm infections. They are frequently cured, go back into the wet rice paddy environment, and become reinfected.

    They move about in the body, some avoid detection even in blood samples. Some will only be detected by their waste materials in the bloodstream and then only during certain of their breeding cycles.

    They can go dormant for long periods of time, making a victim think that whatever he is taking at the moment has 'killed' them.

    Some have eggs that will remain viable for five years.

    Some will bore through the flesh, and if you ignore this it will heal over and the worm will be in the body breeding and doing its damaging thing.

    The CDC is now starting a more vigourous study of these things, with an emphasis on this thing people call Morgellons.

    Lab people, to be effective at detecting these things, must be doing worm work all the time. They are not your normal Quest Lab people.
    There is a lot of training that must go on before we are prepared to handle such problems.

    I have no doubt that at some point we will have medical people who can treat Morg afflicted people, and only hope that it does not take as long as most government projects.

    I am told that in the 2008 US SENATE APPROPRIATIONS BILL there was a move to hasten the CDC study of this problem, but Bush vetoed the bill.

    This worm problem may be a bigger problem in this country than just Morgellons. There are conditions, such as intersistal cystitis, for which there is no known cause, which may have some sort of worm at its heart.

    This is going to be a new and interesting field of study for people.
    Were I young, I might consider this.
    There is a book which I have hardly cracked, but is interesting,
    'Parasite Rex'.
  20. Dec 7, 2007 #19


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    Why on earth did Bush veto the bill? that is like saying (let them eat cake) i would have thought a horrid thing like this would be eradicated asap.
  21. Dec 7, 2007 #20


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    Because it wasn't a bill urging the CDC to get cracking on this, it's a bill that sets the budget for the entire fiscal year.
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