Morgellons coverage in the local media has never been very good, with the natural tendency of TV news to compress things into sound bites, and to force emotional responses from their viewers instead of informing them.

This coverage reached a new low on 3/6/2008 with the broadcast of the KFMB piece titled : “Is Mysterious Skin Condition A Disease Or Delusion?”:

http://www.kfmbtv8.com/features/healthcast/story.php?id=120307#

The majority of the segment is taken up with an interview with a woman who claims she has Morgellons.

Her symptoms began in July with what she thought was an insect bite. It soon evolved into skin lesions.

“One evening I was kind of scratching at one of them, what appeared to be a little white moth flew out of some of these lesions,” she said.

Her terror continues. She says citrus acid brings worm-like threads out of her body. Seeing is believing.

Here’s where things get ridiculous. The woman takes some freshly cut lemon, and rubs it vigorously over her hand for a minute, squeezing and twisting the lemon slice until her hand is covered with lemon juice and lemon pulp.

She then rubs her hands together, rolling the pulp around on her fingertips.

Then she points at some lemon pulp and says “This is worms, can you see it coming out right there?

Later, with hand dried off, she digs at a piece of dried skin at the edge of a wound – the unsaid implication being that this is the same thing.

The footage then cuts to her plucking off another piece of lemon pulp from a different region of unbroken lemon soaked skin.


The piece continues:

[She] has seen countless doctors, but her symptoms are getting worse.

“To be diagnosed by doctor after doctor as being delusional, it’s beyond frustrating,” she said.

I’m sure it is very frustrating, and I feel very sorry for her. However, little white moths are not flying out of her lesions. The “worms” are lemon pulp. I don’t know anything about her other symptoms, or her skin condition, which may well be related to a real medical condition, but in this regard, she holds a mistaken belief.

If countless doctors are telling someone the same thing, over and over, then is there not a chance that the doctors are right?

Despite the title of the piece, there is no questioning on the part of KFMB. They totally accept this woman’s story. Presenting her as a rational person who simply has worms coming out of her skin and is being ignored by countless doctors. They totally ignore the very obvious fact that there are no worms, and that all they are seeing is lemon pulp.

There are some new photos on the MRF web site, including this one:

new_pa3-1.jpg

Which is captioned: “Ribbon-like fiber coated with minerals with a cylindrical fiber and faceted fiber adjacent“, with the implication being that this is some unusual fiber only found in Morgellons patients. But let me set this photo in a larger context:

combined-cotton2.jpg

I’ve taken the MRF photo and scaled it to the exact same scale as another (larger) photo. I’ve also taken two more photos and overlaid them to show detail of the “mineral” coated fiber. One image is just to the right of the middle, and the other is in the left. Note all I did here was rotate the images and moved them to similar regions. The images have been scaled to match (note the 100µm and the 10×10µm scales). Note the undamaged fibers are the exact same size, shape and texture in both photos, while the middle damaged fiber almost exactly matches the overlaid segments of damaged fiber.

All images are of cotton. The larger background image is of cotton thread, from here, the second inset image is of a water-damaged cotton fiber from here. Click on the above photo to zoom in and examine the cotton more closely. Note that they have the exact same “minerals” sprinkled over them. And not that the damaged fiber shows damage in the same way as the “Morgellons” fiber. Also the “faceted” fiber could quite possibly be a faceted fiber, like extruded polyester, but could equally well be a slightly twisted cotton fiber, such as those in the lower right.

Hence, the most likely explanation is that these are cotton, from any of: cotton bandages, cotton wool or cotton clothing.

Original images are linked below, click them to see full versions:

jaic40-02-002-ch2fg6.jpg jaic40-02-002-ch2fg4.jpguwbl-0412-w.jpg

Sources:

http://www.aber.ac.uk/bioimage/image/image.htm

http://aic.stanford.edu/jaic/articles/jaic40-02-002.html

The “Medical Mysteries” series is proving to be quite a money maker for ABC. The New York Daily News reports:

It’s been a challenging summer for the usually dominant ABC. How tough? Reality offerings have crashed and burned. Few are watching reruns of “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives.” But things are looking up. ABC News’ “Medical Mysteries” series, which examines bizarre medical conditions, has turned out to be a real crowd- pleaser.

So it’s not surprising that they would continue to promote the series, and as part of this promotion offer up a preview story on their ABC “news” site, right next to the wolfman, the echolocating blind men, and the women who smell like dead fish.

The ABC Story features Morgellons Patients: Brandi Koch, Anne Dill, Greg Smith and also Mary Leitao, the founder of the MRF, and her son, Drew.

Leitao’s part in the story is interesting, since it explains the start of the Morgellons phenomenon:

Armed with research, Leitao took her son to a doctor at one of the country’s leading hospitals. He dismissed her tale of fibers and wrote to her pediatrician, saying that her son needed Vaseline for his lips and that his mother needed a thorough psychiatric evaluation.

well, you would think that the next logical step in the story would be to explain how she found her son’s fibers were not normal, and disproved all the doctors, but no, we get:

Undaunted, Leitao began poring through the medical literature looking for clues. What she discovered was a 17th-century reference to a strange disease with “harsh hairs” called “morgellons.”

A disease where infants have a fever, and then you rub milk on them, hairs spring from their backs, which you pluck, and the fever vanishes. Nothing to do with anything. Why do they keep bringing this up?

What does Mary say about Drew’s fibers:

“What I saw were bundles of fibers, balls of fibers,” Leitao says. “There was red and blue.” Even stranger, they glowed under ultraviolet light.

I have explained red and blue fibers before. I’ve also explained the glowing (although that’s usually white fibers, which Mary also found, just did not mention in this story). I’ve even discussed the fibers emerging from his lip. There is no evidence at all that Drew had anything at all unusual going on.

Now here’s something I’m looking forward to seeing:

Dr. Greg Smith of Gainesville, Ga., has been a pediatrician for the past 28 years. He claims a fiber is coming out of his big toe, and he has video footage to prove it.

Video footage of fibers emerging is something I’ve been suggesting for a while. The fibers are the only really interesting thing about “this disease” for which you might have a chance of getting some evidence.

The rest of the article is similar to other media articles. Anne Dill (who has a very impressive photo gallery) says her husband died of Morgellons, but he was actually diagnosed with ALS. 4500 people are supposed to have contacted Leitao, when all they did was fill in an internet survey. A doctor says that the lesions form when people scratch themselves.But the real news, and what I suspect that MRF were so excited about before they collapsed, is that the Tulsa City police department were unable to identify some fibers collected from a Morgellons Patient by Randy Wymore:

Forensic scientist Ron Pogue at the Tulsa Police Crime Lab in Oklahoma checked a morgellons sample against known fibers in the FBI’s national database. “No, no match at all. So this is some strange stuff,” Pogue says. He thinks the skeptics are wrong. “This isn’t lint. This is not a commercial fiber. It’s not.”

The lab’s director, Mark Boese, says the fibers are “consistent with something that the body may be producing.” He adds, “These fibers cannot be manmade and do not come from a plant. This could be a byproduct of a biological organism.”

What kind of obscure biological organism produces fibers? Bombyx mori? Rodentia Chinchillidae? Ovis aries? Exactly how extensive is this FBI national database, and how do you check a sample against it? Here’s an earlier mention of the involvement of the Tulsa Police:

The fibers, about the size of small eyebrow hairs, are not living organisms, Dr. Wymore decides. He teams with a Tulsa police department crime lab to sort through fiber samples, and though the lab owns a database of more than 800 fibers, these fibers match nothing.

800 fibers does not sound like very many to me. I bet they don’t have this one:mystery-60x-1.jpg

or this one:

mystery-60x-2.jpg
I’ve got more. My point is that 800 fibers might cover 90% of the common household fibers found in your average bit of lint, but there’s still probably over 10,000 other uncommon fibers like the above – lots of room for unidentified fibers. (A prize to the first person to correctly identify the above two photos – they are from a QX5 at 60x, so are about 3mm across).

Here’s a natural man-made fiber (the large one on the bottom right):

mystery-60x-5.jpg
I KNOW they don’t have that one in their fiber database. Why? I made it myself, simply by firmly rubbing my upper arm with a fingertip after having a hot shower. Some old sun-dried skin sloughed off, and rolled up with natural skin oil and sebum, forming this fiber-like shape. Everyone has these “fibers” from time to time, not everyone really looks at them with a microscope, or asks the police to identify them.

Here’s a much better article on Morgellons, from the Associated Press:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/health/15227993.htm

He recruited two Oklahoma State faculty physicians. They tweezed fibers from beneath the skin of some Morgellons patients who visited the Oklahoma State Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa in February, Wymore said, and sent those samples to the Tulsa Police Department’s forensic laboratory.

The police checked the samples against carpet and clothing fibers and other materials, and conducted chemical analyses and other tests. Nothing matched, said Mark Boese, the police lab’s director.

“How it is being produced, I don’t know,” Boese said. He theorized the fibers could be produced by human hair follicles that somehow encapsulated pollutants processed by the body.

I’ve nothing against the Tulsa Police forensic department (although they do seem to be big fans of CSI). But again, all they have said is they cannot identify some fibers, and they don’t think they are man-made or plant fibers. Hopefully more information will be forthcoming, but they have not explained how they have scientifically determined they are “some strange stuff”. What tests were run? What were the results of the tests? The Tulsa police has some nice equipment. Were these tests run with public money? Can we have the results?

Maybe we’ll see more more details on the show. But remember, ABC is here to entertain you, their aim is to build market share. Keep that in mind, when weighing their evidence. Is it possible that there is some less entertaining evidence? How many fibers were looked at? How many of those fibers were simply not entertaining enough?

Hardly rocket science, anyone who has been to a nightclub in the past thirty years would have noticed that white clothing fluoresces blue-white under UV lights (UV, Ultra Violet, Black Light, Woods Lamp, same thing). Particularly white cotton, including the white fibers in denim jeans.

Yet, Time Magazine says:

Dr. Gregory Smith wants people to know it’s not all in his head. According to the Gainesville, Ga., pediatrician, white fibers have been burrowing into his skin for the past two years, making him feel like he’s under constant bombardment from insects or cactus needles. Shine a black light on these fibers and they’ll fluoresce blue, he says, just like something you’d see in The Twilight Zone.

And the Morgellons Research Foundation says:

They are generally described by patients as white, but clinicians also report seeing blue, green, red, and black fibers, that fluoresce when viewed under ultraviolet light (Wood’s lamp).

It all started with Mary Leitao, who “showed the doctor how the fibers glowed under an ultraviolet light”.

So what’s going on here? Why does the MRF and their publicity department not know that practically all white clothing fibers fluoresce under UV light? Why do they keep repeating that their fibers fluoresce as if it’s something special?

If they can’t get that science right, something that is practically common knowledge, then what else might they have got wrong?

Here’s some white acrylic fibers at 200x, with normal and UV lighting.

flouresenct-acrylic-bottom-200x.jpg flouresenct-acrylic-uv-200x.jpg

Not like something out of The Twilight Zone, just normal clothing fibers.

Update (Aug 1st, 2006): For an explanation as to exactly WHY they fluoresce, see here:

www.techno-preneur.net/ScienceTechMag/july06/Fluorescent_brighteners.pdf

Television likes to entertain. When you see television stories about Morgellons, they invariably show someone who has horrific open sores on their skin. This is very dramatic, and elicits sympathy for the sufferers, as well it should.

Then, when later in the segment they trot out their “Other side of the Debate”, they imply that the doctors will say “it’s all in their heads”.

The viewer might be confused at this point, since as the patient is obviously suffering from a horrible disease that causes nasty looking open sores, then how can it be all in their heads?

Well, I don’t think it’s all in their heads. But the open sores do not always have an entirely physical cause.

Look at these two photos:

w0305-bck-compare.jpg

The photos show a woman’s back covered in sores and scars. They are very similar except that the one on the right has less sores and scars.

Same woman, different times? No. Two different women, one of whom claims to have Mogellons, the other was diagnosed with Neurotic Excoriation. Which is which?
Here are the sources of the photos:

http://cherokeechas.com/worst.htm

http://www.dermnet.com – Neurotic Excoriations

Here’s another good example. Look at the scars, and compare them to the Morgellons sufferer.
neurotic_excoriations_44.jpg

And here’s a very short article explaining what NE is, the suprisingly high incidence, and the MANY causes:
http://www.aafp.org/afp/20011215/1981.html

I highly recommend the above article, I wish someone could show it to the producers of future news stories on Morgellons before they hurt more people with their misrepresentations in the name of entertainment.

© 2012 Morgellons Watch Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha