Morgellan’s Disease: Fact or Fantasy?

Morgellan’s disease or syndrome is either a real disease or a creation of the Internet. It was named by Mary Leito and taken from a 1690 monograph by Sir Thomas Brown who described a condition in children that included copious growth of hair on their backs. The symptom of Morgellan’s include skin lesions from minor to disfiguring, crawling, stinging, and biting sensations. Sufferers of Morgellan’s also claim that there are small seed like or egg like specs in their wounds as well as fibers coming out of the wounds.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

Morgellan’s patients go from doctor to doctor only to be told it is just in their heads. Leito started the Morgellan Research Foundation ( to offer help and to fight to get the medical community to take the disease seriously and to do the necessary research.

Widespread reports of the strange fibers date only three years to the time the syndrome was first described online at

Most doctors think these patients are suffering from what is called delusional parasitosis which patients think that bugs are crawling inside them. They also have the “matchbox” sign wherein they bring small boxes of lint, scabs, or hair to prove their infection. People with Morgellon’s often bring a little box of evidence when seeing a doctor. When patients allow, several doctors have successfully treated Morgellan’s with the antipsychotic drug Risperidone.

A dermatologist who doesn’t want his name to be used feels that Morgellon’s may actually be cutanious dysaesthesia, a neurological disorder that can result in the sensation of scuttling insects. He puts a cast on the skin lesions and leaves it on for four weeks. When the cast is removed, the lesions are gone.

Nurse practitioner Ginger Savely has treated 35 patients with Morgellon’s and believes it to be a real disease. She has successfully treated patients with antibiotics. Ninety percent of her patients test positively for the same bacteria that causes Lyme disease and Savely feels there must be a connection to Lyme disease. Others agree with her.

Morgellan’s is most prevalent in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, and parts of Florida. Savely, Leito and others believe these are the hot spots that are the beginnings of a widespread outbreak of the disease.
Biopsies of skin lesions have not turned up any observable pathogens. The Morgellan’s community has tried to enlist the help of the Center for Disease Control but the CDC does not believe any evidence exists to show that Morgellan’s even exists.

The Morgellan Research Foundation has attempted to reach the public through the media and in this they have been quite successful. They have gotten coverage on many TV stations; especially those located in the hot sports. They have also gotten considerable newspaper coverage and a few articles in magazines. Plus, they have written to elected officials and have succeeded in getting Senator Diane Feinstein interested. Feinstein is a Senator from California and she lives in San Francisco, as does Leito.

Is Morgellan’s a real disease or a child of the Internet? The jury is still out.

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