“Morgellons” is the name Mary Leitao chose for what she considered to be a mysterious new illness afflicting her son. Doctors told her it was just eczema, and that the fibers she found on his lip were just lint. But she was determined it must be a novel new disease that she personally had discovered, so she set up a foundation to publicise it. Eventually, via the internet, other people join her organization, the list of symptoms constituting “Morgellons” is expanded to include these new people. Eventually the list of symptoms becomes very broad, and encompasses just about any medical condition. Doctors reject “Morgellons”, since the symptoms are explained by other diseases, and are too varied and vague to constitute a working definition of a new disease.
But the “Foundation” continues on its mission of “raising awareness” of “this disease”. With lots of hard work they get some press coverage, then some local TV coverage, and then eventually some major TV coverage. Each time the story is the same. Some patients are presented who are obviously ill. Their doctors have told them Morgellons is not a real disease, and the fibers are just lint or hair. Wymore says it is a real disease. The CDC is investigating. The end.
As you can see here, Morgellons was a short-lived phenomenon. The local media coverage spurred interest which faded away. The CNN story spurred some interested, but was limited by the audience. Finally two huge spikes surround the networks morning shows and the “Primetime” special, then nothing, it tails off to zero after the next two months.
So what’s going on? Was Morgellons just a product of a media desperate for news during the silly season? The MRF supplied them with an interesting sounding story, and they ran with it? Then what happened? Where did Morgellons go?
People are still sick, that’s for sure. People are still going to the doctors with excoriations, and with itching, and with fatigue, and with baggies of fibers. That’s not going to stop. There are a variety of reasons for that, and those reasons are not going away.
But “Morgellons” has gone away. It was a label someone decided to put on a bunch of symptoms without any evidence to indicate that anything unusual was happening, and contrary to the opinions of the entire medical community. A few people publicised it very well for a period of time. The media ran the story, but now they’ve “done that”, and there will be no more stories.
Save the inevitable CDC report on “insufficient evidence”, the inexplicable advocacy of Professor Wymore, and the interminable and sad believer’s theories on Morgellons discussion boards, Morgellons is over.
Morgellons is over, but people are still sick. They are probably more sick now than when the MRF started their media campaign. By popularizing “Morgellons” as an actual disease, it gave validity to those who disagree with their doctors, self diagnosed, and chose inappropriate treatments. Morgellons is over, but the damage is done.