December 2006

NPR Morgellons

This NPR piece just tells the  story of Morgellons:

It’s reasonably well done.  Of interest is that the CDC expects their investigation to “take six months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars”.  Which means you probably won’t be hearing anything from the CDC until sometime late 2007.

Still, it looks like the medical profession is forging ahead – again in the story is a mention of simply taking the name “Morgellons” and making it synonymous with Delusions of Parasitosis.   Overall, I feel the discussions surrounding Morgellons will eventually lead to the development of better ways of treating people with DOP, as well as some investigation into various physical triggers for DOP/Morgellons.

Psychiatric News

A couple of interesting articles:

Strange List of Symptoms Perplexes Patients, Doctors

Psychiatric Arsenal Has Weapons Against Morgellons Disease

The latter puts to rest the belief that doctors always dismiss patients automatically as delusional without examining them:

Caroline Koblenzer, M.D. […] a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and a psychoanalyst, has treated dozens of delusional parasitosis patients over the years and several dozen morgellons patients during the past six months.
We do biopsies, we do blood tests, all those things that would rule out the extrusion of any foreign material, whether it be living or nonliving.

“If a patient came to me, I would make sure that he or she had an evaluation by a dermatologist to make sure that there wasn’t any.. .infestation by an organism,” Gerard Gallucci, M.D., said. ”

“I would recommend [doing] some testing to make sure that the patient does not have a skin infection,” said William Meehan, M.D., Ph.D., a University of Massachusetts psychiatry resident who co-wrote a paper about delusional parasitosis in the March Archives of Dermatology. “I would also want to rule out any other problem that might lead to a sensation of bugs crawling on the skin—for example.. .using cocaine or.. .certain endocrine problems, such as thyroid and liver disease.”

KCET Life & Times on Morgellons

Here’s the best report I’ve seen so far on Morgellons:

It’s a seven minute video, and a refreshing change from the brief alarmist segments we’ve seen so far on local TV. It actually presents a very balanced look at the problem, and is well worth a view.

In the accompanying text there is a telling quote from Professor Wymore:

“I entered Morgellons research as a skeptic and have come to understand it as a multi-system disease of unknown cause. Morgellons is off-handedly discounted by many public-health officials and physicians who ignore physical and neurological symptoms — and, instead, label sufferers as delusional without looking at their skin.

If medical professionals would employ a simple diagnostic tool, such as a dermatoscope, they would see microscopic fibers under unbroken, non-scarred skin as my Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences colleagues and I have seen. OSU-CHS researchers have evaluated fibers and material collected by clinical faculty, healthcare providers and patients.”

Wymore seems stuck in a bit of a mental rut, saying the same thing over and over without really stopping to consider the implications of what he is saying.

Supposedly there are over 5000 people with “Morgellons”. They usually report having gone to many doctors, usually in double figures. That’s over 50,000 doctor visits.

What Wymore is saying that that out of those 50,000 visits, they have all been “off-handedly discounted … without looking at their skin”.

Just consider for a moment the implications here. Out of 50,000 docotor visits nobody has noticed that there are fibers growing under the skin? Out of 50,000 doctor visits, including thousands of dermatology visits, nobody looked at the skin of people with obvious skin problems?

Clearly these patients have had their skin examined several times by many doctors. The doctors diagnosed whatever the skin conditions were, and if they saw fibers they did not look suspicious, as it’s perfectly normal to have fibers in your lesions.

Wymore should put up or shut up. He claims to be 100% convinced, and has claimed this for many months. He is a scientist, so he must be basing this on observable evidence. So far all he has produced is a few anecdotes and a couple of unidentified inorganic fibers. If the evidence is as plain and convincing as he claims, then what exactly is the problem in producing this evidence?

Professor Wymore, what would be more productive: performing PCR on bits of lint for several months, or showing your evidence to a few dermatologists and getting the medical community on your side? I suspect that deep inside you really know the score. You are just more comfortable doing your meaningless tests, and being a hero to a sick community.

What would Barry Marshall do?