Essay — From the September 2013 issue

The Devil’s Bait

Symptoms, signs, and the riddle of Morgellons

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For Paul, it started with a fishing trip. For Lenny, it was an addict whose knuckles were covered in sores. Dawn found pimples clustered around her swimming goggles. Kendra noticed ingrown hairs. Patricia was attacked by sand flies on a Gulf Coast beach. Sometimes the sickness starts as blisters, or lesions, or itching, or simply a terrible fog settling over the mind, over the world.

For me, Morgellons disease started as a novelty: people said they had a strange ailment, and no one — or hardly anyone — believed them. But there were a lot of them, reportedly 12,000, and their numbers were growing. Their illness manifested in many ways, including fatigue, pain, and formication (a sensation of insects crawling over the skin). But the defining symptom was always the same: fibers emerging from their bodies. Not just fibers but fuzz, specks, and crystals. They didn’t know what this stuff was, or where it came from, or why it was there, but they knew — and this was what mattered, the important word — that it was real.

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  • Jon Nixon

    One of my patients who believed he suffered from this condition ended up unconscious and on a respirator in the ICU after a car wreck. He was in an induced coma for several weeks. During that time, his skin completely healed. When he recovered consciousness his skin began to break out again. It became obvious to the attending medical staff that his habitual picking and scratching, which was quiesent during the coma, was was the cause of the rash. We tried to him evaluated by psychiatry, but he signed out AMA…..

  • Amelia M. Withington, MD

    Then again, it’s possible that his immune system had a chance to work full-force on keeping the condition in check, undeterred by other stressors, while the patient was in an induced coma. It’s not surprising to me that the symptoms would recur when consciousness was restored. I’m a psychiatrist, and if I had been consulted, my first avenues of inquiry would have been to try to determine the source of the itching. It would be a pity if the patient signed out AMA, feeling that physicians did not take that investigation seriously.

  • don mau

    To treat MD you need organic and amino acids.

    http://www.lyme-morgellons.com/

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