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Medicine

Parasitic Infection Flummoxes Victims and Doctors 581

Posted by Zonk
from the if-you-need-me-i'll-now-be-up-all-night dept.
Toxictoy writes "Imagine having a disease that is so controversial that doctors refuse to treat you. Individuals with this disease report disturbing crawling, stinging, and biting sensations, as well as non-healing skin lesions, which are associated with highly unusual structures. These structures can be described as fiber-like or filamentous, and are the most striking feature of this disease. In addition, patients report the presence of seed-like granules and black speck-like material associated with their skin. Sound like a bad plot for a Sci-Fi channel movie? Think again - it could be Morgellon's Syndrome."
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Parasitic Infection Flummoxes Victims and Doctors

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  • Don't panic (Score:4, Funny)

    by AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:45AM (#15370828) Homepage
    Don't worry, I'm sure it can be cured with aromatherapy, reflexology, homeopathy and a large dose of serpentes lipids. . .
    • Re:Don't panic (Score:5, Informative)

      by arivanov (12034) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:57AM (#15370871) Homepage
      The success will be similar to what dermatology proper can achieve anyway. Modern dermatology cannot cure eczema. Most varieties of psoriasis are uncurable as well. Add in neurodermatitis and a few other skin conditions and you get a fairly long list of conditions which the doctors cannot deal with. They poke at it from different angles like tribal shamans and the success rate is about the same. The reality is that we know so little about the human skin, it is not even funny. Just take Pimecrolimus and eczema. Nobody has even the faintest idea why it works. Staph and eczema? What is the cause and what is the effect? So on so fourth. I read the RTFA and I can understand some of the patients described in it who are taking a gun to a dermatologist appointment. I have wanted to do that on couple of occasions myself.
      • by turbosk (73287) *
        "I read the RTFA and I can understand some of the patients described in it who are taking a gun to a dermatologist appointment. I have wanted to do that on couple of occasions myself."

        Man, you and I are the reasons they invented restraining orders.....
      • Re:Don't panic (Score:4, Informative)

        by djsmiley (752149) <djsmiley2k@gmail.com> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @04:36AM (#15371361) Homepage Journal
        Modern dermatology cannot cure eczema.

        I've cured my own eczema enough that it doesn't bother me for about 10months out of 12. How? Its a selection of things, but the worse problem for mine was when the air was humid it would go mental.

        Also im alerigic to ALOT of shampoos, conditoners and clothes treatment stuff.

        Problem is the world doesn't have any time on its hands to find out what causes the problems, so it never knows WHY it has this problem. If you want to stop your excema do as i did, keep an diary and think carefully of what you've eaten, done, where you have been, what your wearing, when were those clothes last washed?

        I find the longer i leave my jeans unwashed, the less problems they cause me!. Why this is im not sure but it works fine, i just spray them down with some Kleezne stuff to make them smell normal (not that they need it really).
        Nylon causes me no end of problems due to my skin sweating, causing it to get worse.

        Dont RUB your skin dry, pat it instead or getting a toweled dressing gown and wear that and just let your body air dry, its far nicer on your skin.

        Good luck!
        • Re:Don't panic (Score:5, Informative)

          by Demoulous (325692) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @05:20AM (#15371438)
          Sounds very similar to what I did to cure mine. Avoid all shampoos with parfum/perfume, same with soaps and the like. I use a dead sea mud soap which my skin loves and it kills my fungal psoriasis dead. I also use Pears transparent soap on my face and let myself dry in a towelled dressing gown. As a result my skin is in the best state its been in, in years. My dermatologist hadn't the time to be arsed, so I did this all myself with trial and error like the above poster.
        • Re:Don't panic (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cciRRus (889392) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:41AM (#15371880)
          I've cured my own eczema enough that it doesn't bother me for about 10months out of 12. How? Its a selection of things, but the worse problem for mine was when the air was humid it would go mental.
          I don't think that's considered "curing". Your skin problem is still there just that you minimize the chances of it occurring.
        • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Interesting)

          by thatiger (654855)
          I lived in Nigeria and actually had eczema as a child. My grandparents suggested a drink of a traditional coctail every morning which was composed of juice from a certain tree bark. About a week later, I was told to wash of my body with the same liquid. I was pleasantly suprised to see that I was eczema free about two days later. I've never had an eczema relapse since.
      • Re:Don't panic (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 70Bang (805280) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @05:00AM (#15371404)


        Good points! Incredible how important the human body's largest organ is and we know so little.

        Isn't leprosy still on the "uncurable" list? Is it even on the "containable"; i.e., halt it where it is, point? akin to tuberculosis. My mom got it when she was young and as a school teacher, has to get x-rays of her lungs every year to show it's still dormant.

        One other area to touch on is rehashed so often you'd think people catch on: misuse of anti-bacteria related issues...yet there are a lot of peabrains running loose in an unorganized conspiracy to sink modern medicine. You'd think all of the parties involved were backwoods hillbillies with no educations, IQs smaller than their shoe size, and fewer teeth than toes.[1]
        There are three guilty parties: 1) patients; 2) doctors; 3) people in general.
        1. Patients are guilty because they think doctors are just quoting a pamphlet when they tell them, "take all of the pills, don't stop just because you start feeling better." And what do people do? that's a rhetorical question. Boom. Compromised antibiotic.

        2a. Doctors are guilty because patients come to them when they are ill and it's a cold. The patients harangue them into giving them an antibiotic because they think it'll make them feel better, despite Dr. Quack telling them antibiotics don't work with viruses. Finally, the script pad comes out and voila! Compromised antibiotic!

        2b. Doctors are also guilty because each hospital has at least one group where the medical staff and pharmacy administration interact; e.g., "P&T" (Pharmacy & Therapeutics). Issues such as what the formulary items should be, how to deal with non-formulary items, and importantly: what drugs can be administered when. It's supposed to be binding, but doctors don't work for hospitals, so they'll basically do what they want when it comes to that type of thing. The policy can be to only use some new antibiotic for specific patients or diseases|cases and doctors will be more concerned if their shoe is untied when they place the script for the brand new bug-killer and can proudly tell the patient, "We've got somoething brand new and it's going to make you feel a lot better very soon." Shazam! The beginning of the end of that antibiotic. Another compromised antibiotic.

        3. Society in general and the marketing departments of various household goods: all of the various soaps & cleansers which promise to kill bugs when you use them. You're only supposed to use soap to clean your hands off - remove the stuff which doesn't belong there - remove as in get it off of your hands, not kill some of the bugs and leave a small number of immune ones in place. Eugenics takes over and we begin breeding superbugs.


        [1] Wait. Isn't that a description of NASCAR fans? Sorry for the mixup.


        • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Informative)

          by ichigo 2.0 (900288)
          Leprosy is curable with antibiotics. [wikipedia.org]
        • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fred_A (10934)

          Isn't leprosy still on the "uncurable" list?

          Leprosy is dead easy to cure nowadays. At the most it will take a few months of a very simple oral treatment.

          The number of cases decreases roughly 20% / year.

          Regarding tuberculosis, there currently are multi-drug resistant strains that are indeed problematic. As usual these arise from the poor supervision of medications at a time where the consequences weren't understood.

          Apart from that I'm in full agreement with your enumeration.

        • Re:Don't panic (Score:5, Informative)

          by Rutulian (171771) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:23AM (#15371819)
          Everything you say is good up until here.

          3. Society in general and the marketing departments of various household goods: all of the various soaps & cleansers which promise to kill bugs when you use them. You're only supposed to use soap to clean your hands off - remove the stuff which doesn't belong there - remove as in get it off of your hands, not kill some of the bugs and leave a small number of immune ones in place. Eugenics takes over and we begin breeding superbugs.

          Antibacterial soaps are a marketing ploy and nothing more...all soaps are antibacterial. How well a given soap removes bacteria from your hands is directly proportional to how well you clean your hands (i.e: do you just get them wet, or do you really soap up and scrub them down). Bacteria aren't some magical things that can survive the same conditions that will remove dirt, grime, oil, protein, salt, and metals from your hands. Some companies throw in a little bit of antiseptic to get people to buy their soap, but it is no more or less effective than regular soap, and at the concentrations present, it is highly unlikely to cause resistant bacterial strains to develop.
          • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            "Antibacterial soaps are a marketing ploy and nothing more..."

            Not entirely if you live in the US. Antibacterial labeled soaps are FDA regulated. This is defined more or less under the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

            If soap is advertised as just soap or a clensing agent, nothing more, it's not under FDA regulation, even if it contains additional antibacterial compounds or perfumes.

            If you call a perfume, or what not, it's considered a cosmetic and falls under whatever regs apply as decided by the FDA.

            Sim
      • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by renoX (11677)
        >The reality is that we know so little about the human skin, it is not even funny.
        [cut]
        >I read the RTFA and I can understand some of the patients described in it who are taking a gun to a dermatologist appointment. I have wanted to do that on couple of occasions myself.

        While I understand that being ill tend to make people nervous, don't you that you're a bit self-contradictory: it's true that we don't know much about skin illness unfortunately, so why thinking about shooting dermatologist??
        They do wha
      • Re:Don't panic (Score:5, Interesting)

        by the_duke_of_hazzard (603473) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @05:27AM (#15371455)
        I suffer from seborrhaic dermatitis. For years I had no success with doctors' treatments which generally had bad side effects. Then I gave up sucrose and junk food and was effectively cured. No doctor ever mentioned this and it turns out that there's a group of people on yahoo who advocate this treatment. It works pretty much 100% of the time, according to those guys. This has made me a lot more cynical about the medical profession and its relationship with business. It's in no-one's financial interest to advocate a cheap and simple cure that involves _not_ buying and consuming refined foods, except the patient - not the doctor, not the food industry, not the makers of creams etc..
    • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AndreiK (908718)
      Reading the article, of course it can. It's the placebo effect.
    • by Propaganda13 (312548) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:16AM (#15370923)
      House would have had this cleared up during one of his clinic duties. It wouldn't even warrant a full show.
    • by reporter (666905) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:42AM (#15370992) Homepage
      Though mental illness may prompt laughter from some quarters, mental illness is a serious issue.

      In the issue at hand, there may be a common, tangible factor causing the numerous instances of Morgellon's Syndrome. Given the horrendous amount of chemicals that accumulate in non-organic foods, would anyone be surprised that these chemicals may be affecting the operation of the human brain?

      Has anyone done an analysis of the types of food that victims (of Morgellon's Syndrome) eat? Is there a pattern?

      • by orangesquid (79734) <orangesquid&yahoo,com> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:02AM (#15371756) Homepage Journal
        Something that used to cause bizarre delusions, hallucinations, and misperceptions in mideival times was tainted rye bread [wikipedia.org].

        Some of these things _really_ sound like a bad acid trip to me. I'm not kidding---what if these people do have some bizarre infectious agent that causes rashes and secretes hallucinogenic agents into the bloodstream, making the rashes appear to be outlandish and twirl out of the skin and dance around inside your arms?

        Hallucinogens as potent as LSD-25 are extremely difficult to detect. If this is a new, unusual, and very strong hallucinogen (perhaps one that doesn't cause the notorious pupil dilatation that would normally be a tip-off of a chemically-altered mental state) secreted by an infectious agent, it would all add up, at least in my eyes.

        Has this possibility even been investigated? It would also be consistent with the disease being treatable with BOTH anti-infectious and anti-psychotic methods.

        Of course, this doesn't entirely explain the pictures on the MRF website... but perhaps some of the things being labelled as Morgellons don't involve the same infectious agent at all.
        • "Some of these things _really_ sound like a bad acid trip to me."

          Actually, I think there's only one symptom that sounds like a bad acid trip, and that's Formication [wikipedia.org], or delusional parasitosis. It's the feeling of bugs crawling on your skin when there's actually not any bugs crawling on your skin.

          I doubt it would be any kind of hallucinogenic drug. The main reason is that there are no other mind-altering symptoms, such as change of body perception (i.e. being a giant, having wings, etc), change of percepti
      • by mangu (126918) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:05AM (#15371760)
        Given the horrendous amount of chemicals that accumulate in non-organic foods


        As compared to the ridiculously small amount of chemicals that accumulate in "organic" food, perhaps? Everything material is "chemical", all matter is composed of chemical elements. It's ridiculous to assume that a chemical compound is automatically suspect of being dangerous if it was produced in a human factory instead of a plant or animal in nature.


        Think of all the extremely toxic chemical compounds found in nature: snakes, spiders, scorpions, mushrooms, salmonella, botulism, anthrax. Think of curare, strychnine, nicotine, nature produces many toxins that are more dangerous than the most mortal chemical weapon of mass destruction man has invented.

    • Re:Don't panic (Score:3, Informative)

      by cpu_fusion (705735)
      Your comment is funny, but I have to speak up personally here as it concerns me this particular epidemic is not being taken seriously.

      My mother, now in her mid 50s, has been suffering from something precisely like this. I say "something", because she has received absolutely no help to date from the medical community. Dermatologists tell her it is all in her head, and it has made her life completely miserable. Just looking the scarring all over her face, I find it a violation of the hypocratic oath that s
  • Where's the story? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xtal (49134) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:47AM (#15370833)
    If you have strange sores, or another infection, a biopsy will reveal abnormalities. The fact the CDC has not been sent any sample by a trained medical professional (or so the article claims), leads me to question the validity of the claims. There -are- procedures in place to deal with undiagnosed infections.

    I'm not seeing the story here, and I'm reluctant to believe there is a grand conspiracy keeping a single sample from making it to the CDC.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:32AM (#15370967)
      Partially off topic: I have an undiagnosed skin infection that's flummoxed more than a dozen real doctors in real clinics and hospitals for more than a year. BUT it's not spreading, only verly slowly leaving soem ugly scarring on the affected skin. I've been through viral id and fungal tests (all negative) but since they determined only by elimination that the cellulitis must be bacterial, I can't get any of the GP or dermatologists to do anything but throw antibiotics at me. More than 10 courses of antibiotics later (including Cipro and topical Clindamyacin), I'm basically just containing the infection and slowly accumulating more scar tissue.

      ...But I can't seem to get anyone to do a damn culture. I've never before been refused a referral, but I get the brush-off or referral to unavailable doctors when I request the one thing that could simply identify the problem. Short of calling the CDC and sounding like a kook, what's a guy to do when the local medical resources just aren't interested in your weird condition because you're neither particularly interesting, nor actively dying?
      • by xtal (49134) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:51AM (#15371008)
        Step 1: Get a written statement from one, two, or perferably, three GP's or dermatologists you have an undiagnosable skin condition or other aliment that is not psychological in nature.

        Step 2: Get a phone book or google and find out the nearest university medical research center in your geographic area.

        Step 3: Armed with the affadavits in Step 1, contact professors at the university specializing in pathology, dermatology, biology.. just about any -ology except geology, or phrenology, haha. You might have to try a couple, but you WILL find someone interested in your case. Those people have the training, resources, and credentials to find out if there is something novel about your condition. They will pay you no mind without Step 1.

        Good luck.
        • No geology? What if it's a bad case of continental drift?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 20, 2006 @05:38AM (#15371470)
          You likely won't get past step 1.

          I have a rare medical condition (type of intersex condition). Visably androgynous patients tend to get treated pretty poorly by the medical profession (mostly due to anti-gay prejudice.) Although gay or HIV+ patients can usually find a doctor, even "gay-friendly" doctors don't want to deal with intersex patients.

          The problem is 1) Most doctors don't want to deal with patients with rare conditions because they take up a lot of time, taking time away from other patients, 2) Doctors don't want to order lab tests, MRIs, etc for rare conditions because they fear insurance companies will deny it, 3) When they do order tests, they try to come up with a very vague diagnosis to see if they can sneak it by the insurance, and 4) Doctors never want to make a written statement that "Patient X has a rare disease" because they might have to defend it later.

          So since you have no written diagnosis, and no evidence, no researcher will pay attention to you.
    • by Yehooti (816574)
      Maybe someone might benefit from my solutions to my various skin problems encountered over the years. Warts--CP Nitric Acid until it hurts, then soaked in a baking soda solution until it stops fizzing. Unknown reason lesions--soaked in a 50/50 mixture of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide/ 91% Isopropyl Alcohol until you get bored. These things have worked for me in the past. Maybe trying them next time will kill me, so if you want to try them consider that possibility (for you, not me).

      Really, I believe that too man
      • It seems as if all wart cures (except the duct tape cure) are based upon the principle that if you kill all the flesh that the cure comes in contact with, you'll cure the wart. Your nitric acid cure falls in that category.

        H2O2 is more selective; this sounds like an excellent approach.

      • CP nitric is expensive, and stains your skin -- as you no doubt know. Doctors used to use trichloroacetic acid (I don't know what they use now) but before that, they used simple hydrochloric acid, aka muriatic acid, available at hardware stores for paint stripping. One interesting thing about HCl is that it differentially stains the tissue infected with HPV, for reasons I've never heard anyone discuss, but it's how they mark lesions when treating cervical cancer. (Yeah, basically, they fill the woman's c
    • by brennz (715237)
      Whether or not the CDC has sent staff to investigate Morgellon's claims *DOES NOT* relate to the validity of the claims. You need to brush up on logic and fallacies
      http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ [nizkor.org]

      I'd advise looking at http://www.morgellons.org/ [morgellons.org] since that site has more detail for medical professionals.
  • The infected are known to be hostile and will attack you on sight! Do not take chances! Use extreme caution!
    The only way to stop the infected is by destroying the brain or severing the head from the body!
    The government advises all citizens to return to their places of residence and begin stockpiling water and food. Do not make contact with any infected persons!
  • ...or not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilMagnus (32878) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:48AM (#15370838)
    Or it could be the crazies have found one of the internets again.

    My local hospital had a patient reporting something very similar - claimed that bugs were eating her and her son, and she was itching all over. Examination showed she did, in fact, have rashes - from direct self-inflicted skin irritation - and the 'bugs' she'd captured in a little baggy were most definitely lint.

    She got told to stop scratching and put some cream on it, and she got a nice friendly psych consult.

    Never, ever underestimate how many crazies there are. Just ask anyone in retail or another customer-facing industry if you don't believe me.

    • Re:...or not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:11AM (#15370908) Journal
      I've known people with this "disease" for almost 20 years. You know what else these people had in common? They were all speed freaks, crystal meth addicts. These people need a visit to the rehab (or puzzle palace, if they're not on drugs), not the dermatologist.

      It's also in the opening chapter of A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick.

      Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair. The doctor told him there were no bugs in his hair. After he had taken a shower for eight hours, standing under hot water hour after hour suffering the pain of the bugs, he got out and dried himself, and he still had bugs in his hair; in fact, he had bugs all over him. A month later he had bugs in his lungs.

      Having nothing else to do or think about, he began to work out theoretically the life cycle of the bugs, and, with the aid of the _Britannica_, try to determine specifically which bugs they were. They now filled his house. He read about many different kinds and finally noticed bugs outdoors, so he concluded they were aphids. After that decision came to his mind it never changed, no matter what other people told him . . . like "Aphids don't bite people."

      They said that to him because the endless biting of the bugs kept him in torment. At the 7-11 grocery store, part of a chain spread out over most of California, he bought spray cans of Raid and Black Flag and Yard Guard. First he sprayed the house, then himself. The Yard Guard seemed to work the best.

      As to the theoretical side, he perceived three stages in the cycle of the bugs. First, they were carried to him to contaminate him by what he called Carrier-people, which were people who didn't understand their role in distributing the bugs. During that stage the bugs had no jaws or mandibles (he learned that word during his weeks of scholarly research, an unusually bookish occupation for a guy who worked at the Handy Brake and Tire place relining people's brake drums). The Carrier-people therefore felt nothing. He used to sit in the far corner of his living room watching different Carrier-people enter--most of them people he'd known for a while, but some new to him--covered with the aphids in this particular nonbiting stage. He'd sort of smile to himself, because he knew that the person was being used by the bugs and wasn't hip to it.

      "What are you grinning about, Jerry?" they'd say.

      He'd just smile.

      In the next stage the bugs grew wings or something, but they really weren't precisely wings; anyhow, they were appendages of a functional sort permitting them to swarm, which was how they migrated and spread--especially to him. At that point the air was full of them; it made his living room, his whole house, cloudy. During this stage he tried not to inhale them.

      Most of all he felt sorry for his dog, because he could see the bugs landing on and settling all over him, and probably getting into the dog's lungs, as they were in his own. Probably--at least so his empathic ability told him--the dog was suffering as much as he was. Should he give the dog away for the dog's own comfort? No, he decided: the dog was now, inadvertently, infected, and would carry the bugs with him everywhere.

      Sometimes he stood in the shower with the dog, trying to wash the dog clean too. He had no more success with him than he did with himself. It hurt to feel the dog suffer; he never stopped trying to help him. In some respect this was the worst part, the suffering of the animal, who could not complain.

      "What the fuck are you doing there all day in the shower with the goddamn dog?" his buddy Charles Freck asked one time, coming in during this.

      Jerry said, "I got to get the aphids off him." He brought Max, the dog, out of the sh

      • Re:...or not (Score:5, Interesting)

        by B3ryllium (571199) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:19AM (#15370933) Homepage
        Ah HAH. The movie Scanner Darkly is coming out soon. It's a viral marketing gag. Although I guess in this case it's a parasite, not a virus ... ;-)
        • Re:...or not (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          OK, if this whole disease is a viral marketing gag for ASD, I've got to hand it to the people who put it together. First they have you thinking it's a real disease, then you realize it's delusional in nature, then you realize it's deliberately delusional. Nifty.
          • Re:...or not (Score:5, Interesting)

            by B3ryllium (571199) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:58AM (#15371017) Homepage
            Both of the websites I've been linked to today, morgellons.org and morgellonsusa.com, are registered by anonymous DNS-by-proxy companies.

            It reeks to high heaven of marketing hoopla.
            • How'd they get a state university (admittedly, a bunch of Aggies) to buy into the scam, though? (http://www.healthsciences.okstate.edu/morgellons/ registration.cfm [okstate.edu] is linked from morgellons.org)

              They could be pulling off the next War of the Worlds with this, if they get enough people to "share the delusion." It works on so many different levels...
              • Re:...or not (Score:5, Informative)

                by B3ryllium (571199) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @02:27AM (#15371067) Homepage
                I've noticed that at least one of the supposed links are dead. As for how they got the media to buy in ...

                The wikipedia article was created in Feb of 2005. It contained a one-sentence summary and a link to the website. The website is registered by a dns proxy company, so there's no DNS contact information. Ooh, another bizarre coincidence - the supposed "national news broadcast" has been postponed until "june or july"; release date of the movie is July 7th. When looking at it in a paranoid mindset, lots of things on the site are curious. Including the DISTINCT lack of decent contact information. I've found only a few email addresses so far. Ironically, the only person whose domain I've been able to nail down as non-anonymous is the supposed webmaster. And his site is cheesily amusing in its own right. :)

                The Scanner Darkly had its recent release date, September 16th, pushed back to some time in March, 2006." [canmag.com] - as you can see, it's been bumped around a fair amount.
  • What the.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ElScorcho (115780) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:49AM (#15370840)
    This website reads like timecube. What's with the baby blue background, gratuitous overuse of "quotation marks", and broad statements about the medical community willfully ignoring the person? Can we perhaps get some authoritative sites? Seriously, doctors are just as curious as the rest of us and if there were really something here I'm sure there would be papers on it. All the evidence this site presents are out-of-context photos of some fibrous stuff. For all I know that's your belly button lint.
    • Horrific website design should be added to the lists of schizophrenia symptoms. I don't know why it is, and I hate making broad and offensive generalizations like this, but it seems to be so.
    • Re:What the.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bcmm (768152)
      I really couldn't say way, but really attention-seekingly bad design almost always signifies a crackpot's website.

      All-bold paragraphs, too many different fonts, unpleasant use of primary and secondary colours (especially in solid-colour backgrounds), and, even more than the rest, all-centred paragraphs are almost always found on the websites of conspiracy theorist, UFO nuts or new religions. Seriously, search for some conspiracy or new-age related terms on the web, and you'll see what I mean (this generall
  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:49AM (#15370841)
    More like tinfoil-hat bullshit. Sorry folks, but Morgellons is a particularly sad expression of schizophrenia, not a strange space-age malady that makes you break out in deep-pile shag.

    It's particularly telling that the 'big' sites that 'cover' this 'malady' don't actually show pictures of symptomatic sufferers or anything noteworthy like that. No, instead we get useless SEM photos of fibres, bits of dust and ECU shots of cat scratches.

  • by icepick72 (834363) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:51AM (#15370848)
    Grow Your Own Sweater.
  • by djSpinMonkey (816614) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:53AM (#15370854) Homepage
    "Morgellan's Syndrome?" Dude, that still sounds like the plot of a bad sci-fi movie. Do they cure it by reversing the polarity of Jordie's visor and routing a graviton particle beam through Data's knee?
  • This is science? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stoneymonster (668767) *
    Perhaps you should change the icon from Einstein to Miss Cleo.

    HTH, HAND.
  • Maybe it's a nanotech experiment gone wrong. Grey goo that reacts with cellulose or cell walls has leaked into the water system after an animal came into contact with it at a subdermal level, and then died of its injuries, and is now spreading the material particle by particle into the water system of a nearby town.
  • by NXIL (860839) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @12:56AM (#15370868)
    This is referred to as "delusions of parasitosis".

    http://www.emedicine.com/derm/topic939.htm [emedicine.com]

    The *sensation* they have is "real", not to sound like Morpheus: feels like bugs in skin. The sensation goes away quickly when Pimozide is prescribed.

    It's not all that uncommon.

    It's very hard to convince patients that they need Pimozide, and not a can of "Raid" to spray on themselves.

    There's another web site that has been around longer relating to the same issue:

    http://www.skinparasites.com/ [skinparasites.com]

    They misinterpret lint, fibers, dust, and other debris as parasites; sort of a variant of hearing voices/OCD/other disorders where sensations are spurious or can't be correctly decoded.

    • I'd mod you up if I had points. I'm a medical student and I got the chance to take a history on a patient claiming to have this syndrome. It ended up that we gave him risperidone. If I'm not mistaken, pimozide has some fairly bad side effects and isn't normally prescribed these days. Then again, I'm only a med student.
      • Don't worry (Score:5, Funny)

        by DoubleRing (908390) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:19AM (#15370934)
        Don't worry, I have mod points! Oh, wait...
      • by NXIL (860839) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:31AM (#15370964)
        What's the difference between a medical student and dog crap?

                                No one goes out of their way to step on dog crap.....

        You are quite correct--best to get an EKG/watch for extrapyramidal side effects, but, I have found that very low doses of Pimozide are effective, on the order of 1 or 2 mg a day, not a full antipsychotic dose.

        Most difficult therapeutic maneuver is building trust--not at all easy to get them to take anything at all. I just try to be very honest, reassuring, kind--sort of like Mr. Rogers.

        UCLA Med School: awesome....congrats.

    • by blincoln (592401) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:29AM (#15370958) Homepage Journal
      The *sensation* they have is "real", not to sound like Morpheus: feels like bugs in skin.

      Yes, this is (IMO) one of the more bizarre aspects of psychosis - it's not just the the people suffering from it *believe* in things that aren't true, they actually experience some of them directly.

      I've known a couple of people with schizophrenia, and while it's a terrible condition, it gave me a lot of respect for the power of our minds.
    • Be aware of skinparasites.com - they are scammers. I once tried to figure out some skin problems I had, they almost convinced me a) I had that and b) to give them $10k for "research".. I was desperate and younger but I chose not to give them the money.

      Pretty disgusting and very paranoid people. Mention anything and all of a sudden you have a parasitic infection and no one will listen.. it's us vs them fancy pance doctors. So give us money and we'll solve this.

      Crooks.
  • When it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, it must be a duck.

    When there's no evidence that it's a duck, it's delusional. What motivated this late night posting? Perhaps additional delusion.

    Not to discount the earnest sentiments of real people, I'll agree that it's a little 'tin-hat' to be taken seriously. But then the medical community has done bad things before, like missing the value of "Lorenzo's Oil" and other odd-but-true associations.

    That fact still doesn't explain the posting.
  • hoax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dan14807 (162088) * on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:02AM (#15370887) Journal
    It's a hoax. Notice how all of the images of exotic multi-colored fibers are close-ups where you can't see the person or the sores they talk about. The pictures of people with sores on them show people with plain sores.
  • A new low (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davidoff404 (764733) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:04AM (#15370890)
    I've been reading /. for years and have noticed a general downward trend in the quality of stories posted, but this represents an all-time low. Seriously, do any of the admins even bother reading submissions before posting them any more? Apart from the ludicrous Wikipedia entry, the sole basis for this story seems to be a Popular Mechanics article (Popular Mechanics for Christ's sake!) and a bizarro TimeCube [timecube.com]-like website.

    Seriously dudes, this is the worst story I've ever seen on /. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
    • Re:A new low (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:45AM (#15371000)
      Even the article makes it abundantly clear that an infection is not the problem. The real story here is the stigma attached to anything relating to mental health. That is not to say these people are not suffering. The problem is they refuse the professional's opinion out of hand. These people are so frightened of being considered "delusional" that they act in ways that make the rest of us think they are nuts:

      When Miles Lawrence sped to the hospital, he was told he had delusional parasitosis and that the weird spines were "just dirt." But over the next week his symptoms got worse. He scratched at his elbows and noticed more fibers, and little black specks. "It was like they were fighting back," he says.

      It is more important to Lawrence to insist he is not delusion (or perhaps there are some other incentives, such as being special enough to be written into a Popular Mechanics article, or the attention one receives when one has a scary-sounding disease such as "Morgellons Syndrome") than to end his suffering through several apparently effective cures. Those that allow treatment see the alleviation of symptoms within weeks!
    • but, but, if we didn't post this stuff, who would go see the movie?? [imdb.com]
  • by SirFlakey (237855) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:08AM (#15370902) Homepage
    ..One way or another. Ok, so I laughed at the "Grow your own sweater" comment =) but let's face it Only two options here - it's fake an in their heads or it's real and it's a problem. In the latter case, there are a LOT of strange diseases out there, we have procedures and people to investigate this and so they should. In the former case they still need help, though arguably of a psychiatric nature.

    The healthcare professionals (Doctors/etc) should really not be turning these people away quite so easily imho. Yep we have a lot of 'crazy people' out there but it probably doesn't help having them sit in the corner of their houses spraying themselves with Raid/Baygon.
    • by blincoln (592401) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:33AM (#15370971) Homepage Journal
      The healthcare professionals (Doctors/etc) should really not be turning these people away quite so easily imho.

      It's very difficult to properly treat someone who is delusional. In most of the US, patients cannot be forced into treatment unless they are actively suicidal or homicidal. In my experience, it's not that doctors turn them away, it's that they refuse to accept what's really going on and leave on their own.
      • It's very difficult to properly treat someone who is delusional. In most of the US, patients cannot be forced into treatment unless they are actively suicidal or homicidal. In my experience, it's not that doctors turn them away, it's that they refuse to accept what's really going on and leave on their own.

        Hmm good call - Whilst being somewhat ethically reprehensible (Paging Dr. House!) I wonder wether this might not be a good place for palcebo's combines with whatever drugs help ?
  • by D H NG (779318) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:19AM (#15370930)
    Dr. Nick Riviera: "Sir, calm down, you're going to give yourself skin failure. The symptoms you describe lead me to believe that you are suffering from bonus eruptus, a rare disorder in which the skeleton tries to jump out of the skin. The only way to stop it is through transdental electromicide. I'll need a golf cart motor and a thousand volt capacimator, stat."
  • by rdmiller3 (29465) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:19AM (#15370931) Journal
    One of the links for this "disease" talked about a woman who was taking her two-year-old son to the doctor because she thought he had it.

    Since these fibers are obviously ordinary textile fuzz and lint, that means that the poor kid's delusional mom is inflicting the condition upon him. I hope that their doctor had the sense to contact someone in Social Services.

  • Yeah the disease may be mental because drugs [mentalhealth.com] for schizophrenic patients alleviate it. But Morgellons seem to be on the uprise. Maybe people are not being infected with skin parasites, but instead are being tainted with somethin that makes them think they have skin parasites. Possibly people are being infected by some parasite that infects/affects their brain. There are numerous examples where some parasite that infects say an insect or mouse alters the behavior of the animal so that it is easy for a pred
    • Actually I quite like that idea, of course Moregellons may simple be on the up due to the "me-too" effect. The delusions are capable of being spread some external factor could explain it (could also be chemically induced ?).

      Hmm, hey this could be a cool little story line for ReGenesis [regenesistv.com] - someone call NorBac =)
    • But Morgellons seem to be on the uprise.

      Maybe that's because crazy people are on the rise. Bush got re-elected, after all.
    • Some kind of herpes-like thing would sure cause the pain and itching.

      So then you're looking for something to blame and you see a few fibers that you'd never noticed before... that'd do it. Obviously the fiber-like things must be the source of the pain, so they can't be just fibers.
  • LoL April Fools has passsed along with the pink ponnies!
  • by Vskye (9079) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:31AM (#15370965)
    Mod me down, that's fine. First off, most of the comments here did'nt even RTFA and just looked at the pics. Yet most answers should be modded down to 0. Why is this far fetched? Never woke up getting bit, had a cockroach in you're mouth, (never lived down south heh?) or had other weird bug experiences? Some people have extreme reations to stuff, like.., trees, grass, anything non-concrete, mold, and insects. (list can go on and on.) So, why is so *ucking impossible? I used to think that carpal tunnel was bs, but a few months ago I had a sharp pain in my right arm, and now I'm due for surgery in June. Poof!
  • It is called belly button lint. I am glad I am not alone.
  • by monoqlith (610041) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @01:40AM (#15370989)
    This isn't surprising at all. As someone who has been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia with affective symptoms(schizoaffective disorder) because I brought myself into the emergency room with tachycardia, panic, and what appeared to me to be some kind of neurodegenerative illness(I literally could not think), I doubt that the patients in this story are making up what they feel. They certainly must feel the sensation of itching, scratching - it is just as real to them as the breakfast they eat. In my case, it was neurological Lyme disease, which the doctors in question failed to test for and failed to diagnose, prescribing an antipsychotic medication - claiming I was delusional - which made my symptoms much, much worse. However, after seeking out the help of a psychiatrist and neurologist, I was offered correct treatment for the Lyme disease that I was originally diagnosed for in 1989 - when I was six years old - and for which I had been treated inadequately. After intravenous treatment with antibiotics and immune-modulating drugs, my brain became sharp again - indeed, sharper than it has been since I was a small child, before my brain had fully developed. Schizophrenia doesn't go away with antibiotics, and usually neither does severe cognitive decline - Lyme disease does.

    In this case, there's a suspicious connection reported on multiple web sites about people with this disease being co-diagnosed with Lyme disease. While this "Morgellons" parasite-disease may be a delusion, it probably has a neurologic, organic cause, due to suddenness of onset and other factors. I wouldn't be surprised if the cause turned out to be Lyme disease, which can have a wide range of neuropsychiatric effects including delusions, hallucinations, memory problems, suicidal and homicidal ideation, thought disorder, and severe cognitive deficits . One quote from TFA is quite telling:
    Ginger Savely, a nurse practitioner in Austin, Texas, says she has treated 35 patients with symptoms. "Everyone tells the exact same story," she says. "It's just so consistent." Savely prescribes her patients a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics. "If I knew what I was dealing with," she says, "it would be easier to treat." Yet, she says, her patients--including Lawrence--improve within weeks.
    . The fact that it may respond to antibiotics may indicate some relation to a bacterial illness, in particular Lyme. It's truly an insidious disease that can go undetected and undiagnosed for many years while patients' lives deteriorate - and no doctors are literate enough in the treatment of this disease to treat it adequately.

    In any case, the medical establishment is often too quick to diagnose a patient with a complaint it does not understand as a primary-onset psychiatric disorder. By doing this, they cause a great deal of harm by delaying treatment in the case that the disease is *not* a psychiatric disorder. In order for medicine to be able to heal people, it needs to stop this trend and start taking earnest, persistent reports of people's pain seriously - even if it is delusional. If all of the possible organic causes have been researched and exhausted, only then is it time to take out the prescription pad for anti-psychotic or other psychiatric medication.
  • Is this story 50 days late or 315 days early?
  • by ortholattice (175065) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @03:03AM (#15371160)
    The last link has a lot of pictures, and I feel sorry for that person if it is true, but it is strange that the actual skin lesions these fiber clusters came from are never shown, only the "stuff" that was supposedly pulled out of them. But the "Treatment Recommendations" on p. 5 [morgellonsusa.com] certainly sounds like a testimonial/marketing brochure for "Taurox".

    Taurox has been evaluated by homeopathic experts and is registered with the FDA.

    Homeopathic experts?!?

    Call Sharon now and use the following Code Number and because we are people "greatly in need," you get an additional 15% discount off of the price.

    Right, and who gets a cut from this "Code Number"? Note that the person was already "80% better" (from standard antibiotic treatments) before the miracle of Taurox entered the picture, apparently providing that last 20% boost for the "fatigue" that remained after the mainstream treatment.

    And the very odd thing is that the Morgellons Research Foundation site has no mention of Taurox at all.

  • by Etcetera (14711) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @03:21AM (#15371203) Homepage
    I'm not one for quackery or anything else, nor do I know anyone who's had this "disease", nor do I believe there is some Giant Government Conspiracy to infect the population with chemtrails designed by Karl Rove or other nonsense...

    But rather than freakin' dismissing everything as paranoia, wouldn't it be a good idea to actually *investigate* this? The article, along with a writeup in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology [morgellons.org] bring a very important point. When diagnosing something as psychosomatic, make sure that the pyschological symptoms are the primary cause of what's going on, not secondary in nature or being caused by something else.

    See also an interesting study from the Oklahoma Dept. of Health [headlice.org] I found with 2 minutes of Googling.

    Is it a bioengineered weapon from evil crazed oil companies? No. But whatever the underlying medical cause(s) of some of this is, it deserves a legitimate medical investigation. Isn't that what science is about?
  • by sirwired (27582) on Saturday May 20, 2006 @08:46AM (#15371889)
    If it is consistently cured with antibiotics, then it ISN'T a parasite. And bacteria don't create little worms crawling out of your skin. (Note, however, that parasitical infections can go away on their own.)

    The woman in the article mentioned she saw spaghetti-like things crawling out of her son's chest. She pulled, but "couldn't pull it out." That is a very convenient excuse for not being able to produce a sample. Has this woman never heard of scissors, or are these things as tough as steel too?

    Parisitologists and infectious disease researchers LIVE to discover new interesting afflictions. Believe me, if we had a new genuine disease causing spectacularly impressive crap to crawl out of victims skin, there would be journal articles about it in a minute. Also, wouldn't such obvious symptoms make it pretty damn easy to diagnose?

    Lyme disease, yeah, that was a toughie to initially diagnose because the symptoms are so varied and suble. But fiber-like-stuff crawling out of people is pretty unambiguous.

    And, "black flecks coming from pimples"? Err... sounds like blackheads to me.

    That website is pathetic. Several pages of pictures, most of which look like shredded yarn scraps. It would have been a lot more convincing if there were pictures of the yarn crap actually coming from people. We do have some blurry shots of skin-like-substance with something on them, but nothing in particular to identify. Have these folks ever heard of "macro" mode?

    I have heard of nasty parasitical infections indeed causing a crawling sensation inside the skin, and likewise inexperienced doctors thinking it is psychosomatic. However, in none of those cases was the diagnosis difficult once the actual worm/bug was dug out of the skin.

    Either this "syndrome" was concocted by a complete nutjob, or this is the job of some "performance artist" trying to get an articles written up in various places.

    SirWired

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