Good, in depth article about Morgellons deisease. Gives a brief history of Morgellons and then discusses how patients and doctors react to the symptoms. Really good read.
The Morgellons Mystery
A just-christened illness involves disorientation, multi-colored fibers bursting from sores, and the sensation of bugs crawling under the skin. Is this an age-old delusion or a disturbing new disease?
Four years ago, Mary Leitao plucked a fiber that looked like dandelion fluff from a sore under her 2-year-old son's lip. Three pediatricians, three allergists, two dermatologists, and many misdiagnoses later, she realized she had a problem. Her toddler son, Drew, had developed more sores, with more fibers poking out of them. Sometimes the fibers were white, and sometimes they were black, red, or blue. He also believed that insects were crawling under his skin, something he conveyed, in two-year-old fashion, by pointing to his lips and saying "bugs."
It wasn't eczema, or an allergy that physicians could discern. Something was seriously wrong. But no one believed Leitao. The last doctor she tried to consult, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University, not only refused to see her, but based on Drew's growing pile of medical records, suggested it was a case of Munchausen's by proxy, a psychiatric syndrome in which a parent pretends a child is sick or makes him sick to get attention from the medical system.
Frustrated, in March of 2004, Leitao picked a name for what afflicted Drew: Morgellons disease, from an obscure, 17th century French medical article describing an illness, called the morgellons, in which black hairs emerge from the skin. Then she put up a Web site. "I was hoping to hear from scientists or physicians who might understand the problem," she says. Instead, she heard from thousands of others, all describing the sores and fibers and an additional laundry list of neurological symptoms that included brain fog, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain, among others. "That's when I started to realize how big this problem was," says Leitao.
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