July 2006


A commenter called “Hugh R Delusional”, challenged me thusly:

Can Morgellons watch replicate bundles of colored fibers? If we fiberites are crazy and the fibers we claim to see are simply textile in origin then any doubter should easily be able to pluck some lint off their clothing or belly button even and see bright blue, red, black and translucent fibers tangled in amongst the lint. […]

If your curious as to what you should be looking for, go to the main page of morgellonsusa.com and the background picture will give you a clear indication of what to expect.

Here’s the morgellonsusa.com picture:


So I got out my trusty QX5 and scrabbled together a few lint balls from my wardrobe. Unfortunately my microscope only does 10x, 60x, or 200x, so I can’t replicate the scale of the above (which looks 20x), but here’s my best effort at 60x


And again at 10x


I think that quite conclusively shows that the morgellonsusa fibers are nothing more that regular clothing fibers.

This whole experiment took me less than 20 minutes.


Later I discovered that the Morgellonsusa photo was actually squished and elongated, which gives it that odd looking scale. It’s actually a regular 60x QX3/5 photo. Here’s the original:


This is a tiny little thing, barely a spec when viewed at arms length. Easily not noticable on your skin until you look closely. For scale, here’s a bit of MY fuzzball on a penny, at the exact same scale. Note it’s on the letter ‘E’ of ‘CENT’. Also notice how the colors and the fiber diameters all match the morgellonsusa photo.


I also did bit more digging, for Hugh, and found this bit of lint on the floor of the laundry room:


You see, fibers are everywhere. And this bit of lint shows that they are mostly white, with some red and blue, and the occasional black. I think laundry lint is a pretty good random sampling (seeing as I don’t sort my laundry by color).

Morgellons Makes Money

If you search for “Morgellons” on Google, you get three ads under “Sponsored Links”:

Cure for Skin Parasites
got Morgellons Disease? We did
Dr. Uppal agrees

Scabies? or Skin Parasite
Learn the difference for quick cure
Recommended by doctors – safe

Morgellons Disease
Natural Remedies for Morgellons
Information and Recommendations

The first site, “be-healthy-forever”, says that Morgellons is Hookworms, and tries to sell you a book for $120, explaining the “cure”, along with a “propriety blend” of oils, for $350, and a full treatment package for $1500.

The second site, “cure-skin-parasite”, is dermatechrx, which I have discussed before. They say Morgellons is “unidentified”, as if the word “unidentified” somehow clearly defines something. (“Do you have “unidentified”? You need “this”!). They simply sell variants of Bactine, for vastly inflated prices. A few gallons of disinfectents and some antiseptic cream comes to $400.

The third site, “renewalenterprises”, says that Morgellons is Lyme, and recommends “the use of supplements that treat viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungus”, just to cover all the bases. Of course, it also says “These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” They give a long list of “treatments” that are “ESSENTIAL”. The full course is about $500 for about a month’s supply.

And the sad thing is: people will buy this stuff, and in all probabilty they will simply damage their weakened skin even more, continuing the cycle of itching, scratching and lesions.

Of couse, such snake oil is nothing new. It’s not going to go away either. The FDA is not doing a good job here.

Morgellons also makes money for the more serious practicioners of medicine. It was reported on Lymebusters that Nurse Practicioner Ginger Savely charges $500 for a session. Upon seeing a patient with persistent unexplained pruritus and/or neurotic excoriations, she can refer them to a dermatologist who is qualified to make a specific diagnosis, or she can diagnose them with the catch-all “Morgellons”, and begin a course of unconventional treatments that takes several months, at $500 per session, followed by very expensive “phone visits” . For the latter, she was effectivley expelled from Texas by the Texas Medical Board.

This thread on Lymebusters suggests even higher prices:(registration required):


Curious here- Is it true her apointments range in the astronomical figures these days?

London, I know that sounds (and is) so expensive but all the LLMDs charge these huge figures.

01tr3v (trev)
Her fees are $1000 to see you and she also has some type of structured telephone fee with is rediculous. Its something like 200 for the first 15 minutes, then 175 for the next 15 minutes and so on.

Yes, the fee to see her is correct. I’d gotten the info emailed to me,

People push Morgellons for a variety of reasons. For some, those reasons might include money.

Morgellons Case Definition

You get a lot of different reports of fibers.  Some people find fibers in lesions, some wipe them off their skin, some are short, some long, all different colors, some hard, some soft, some move, some grow, some pop in and out of the skin, some are microscopic, some hair sized, some like threads, some are like spaghetti strands.

Why so many different types of fiber?

I think the problem is with the Morgellons Research Foundation case definition, which describes the fibers thusly:

“[the fibers] are generally described by patients as white, but clinicians also report seeing blue, green, red, and black fibers,”

That is it, no particular diameter, length, morphology, ductile or brittle properties, opacity, smoothness, curvature, solubility, texture or any characteristic other than them being one of a number of colors.

So, anyone who finds any fiber “in or on a lesion”, OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER, will fit the case definition.

What exactly is the MRF doing?  Presumably they are not stupid, they have a few PhDs in there, and Leitao has a degree in biology.  Can’t they see that with this ridiculously broad case definition, nobody will take them seriously?  If Morgellons is real, then they do the real sufferers a great disservice in having such an inclusive case definition.
I think that the reason they do not refine the case definition is that they are stuck in the same “non-judgemental” mindset that prevails at Lymebusters.  Not wanting to exclude anyone, they include everyone.  The case definition covers the ailments of about 50 Million Americans with some kind of MUPS.  Anyone who chooses, can simply say they have Morgellons, and the case definition will agree with them.   According to the case definition, I have Morgellons.

I challenge the Morgellons Research Foundation to either update their case definition, or explain themselves.

“This” Disease

What we have here, is a failure to communicate.

“I have this disease!”, “this disease is real!”, “I have this”, “the symptoms of this…”, “this terrible disease”.

The problem here is one of language. Saying “this” makes “it” sound like a real disease that has been discovered and that people have been diagnosed with. “This” indicates something concrete, but is being used for something intangible.

When someone says “I have this disease”, they really mean “I have some of the symptoms listed on the Morgellons Research Foundation web site, I found some fibers on my skin, so I’m assuming both that Morgellons is a real disease, and that I have Morgellons”.

Being a language problem, we can’t do much about the problem, we can’t change the language, we can’t even explain the problem very well. But we can be aware of the problem.

“This Disease” is a linguistic shortcut that allows you to travel from symptoms to diagnosis without the usual logical and scientific steps that are required inbetween.

Morgellons vs. the Ulcer

This is Helicobacter Pylori:

Heliobacter Pylori

It’s a bacterium that lives in the stomach. About 40% of Americans are infected with it. In most people it does nothing harmful, but for some people it is involved in the production of stomach ulcers. Treatment with antibiotics that target H. Pylori will cure and then prevent the recurrence of stomach ulcers.

What has this to do with Morgellons?

Firstly, the story of the discovery of the connection between H. Pylori and ulcers is a rather romantic one. Scientists originally were unsure what caused ulcers, but though stress or eating spicy foods might contribute. One maverick scientist though that bacteria might be involved after a colleague found some H. Pylori via biopsies of people who had ulcers. This was just 25 years ago, in 1981.

His peers though this idea was crazy, as bacteria could not establish colonies in the harsh acidic environment of the stomach. To prove them wrong, the scientist drank a bunch of the bacteria, and got sick. He then found that H. Pylori was living in his stomach. Subsequent research demonstrated a clear link between H.Pylori infection and Ulcers. The scientist went on to win the Nobel prize for his work.

Mary Leitao, the founder of the Morgellons Research foundation has this to say about H. Pylori.:

My take on why this organism has not been identified is similar to what happened with the discovery of Helicobacter pylori and ulcer disease.

So, is there any similarity here?


In 1981 Peptic ulcer disease was very well documented. Several million cases of peptic ulcers were diagnosed each year. The clinical manifestations of Peptic ulcers were clearly defined. A clear diagnosis could be given. The existence of the ulcer could be determined via X-Ray and endoscope. Effective pallative treatments were available. They simply did not know what caused them, or how to prevent them.

In 2006, there is no scientific documentation on Morgellons. No cases have been documented in a clinical setting. No diagnosis of Morgellons can be given, no standards exist for determining if the disease even exists. Since we don’t know if it exists as a distinct disease, we don’t have any treatments for it. You cannot find a causative agent for something that is not defined.

The first step towards finding a treatment for a new disease would be to establish that the disease actually exists. This has not been done for Morgellons. How can you tell if you have cured something if there is no standard for saying if you have it? With ulcers, the connection is clear, you can tell if someone has an ulcer with endoscopic examination. You can tell if they have H. Pylori infection with a sample and culture. Statistical studies show that without H. Pylori there are no ulcers.

Since there is no standard for what constitutes “Morgellons”, there is no standard for what constitutes “cured of Morgellons”. If the Morgellons Research Foundation wishes to be taken seriously, they must first take the step of clearly demonstrating that the disease actually exists.

Then we can move on, and examine the effectiveness of tests and treatments.

Mary Leitao, you can’t identify a causitive organism before you identify the disease.

We know what ulcers are. What is Morgellons?

Ginger Savely

One of the few people who will “diagnose” Morgellons is a nurse practitioner called Ginger Savely.

Ms Savely appears on several of the TV News stories, including the CNN report. She seems quite professional, and caring of her patients.

I found this post about her

RE: Ginger Savely InformationShe costs $500.00 a visit. Her specialty is Lyme, and when she started getting so many patients with Morgellons symptoms that tested positive for LD, she worked with them also and noticed they often got better when treated with LD drugs.

She practices in San Francisco under the direction of Dr. Stricker, but, I believe, she stills lives in Austin.

Ms Savely practices in San Francisco, since she was essentially banned from practicing in Texas by the Texas Medical Board, due to her excessive tendency to prescribe antibiotics where they were not indicated by conventional medical standards.

Several of her patients from Texas apparently now visit her in San Francisco, they must be quite convinced she is correct.

Since Morgellons is not a recognized disease, the $500 per visit must presumably be paid out of pocket.

On a recent on-line chat, Ms Savely solicited new patients (” Patients who want to see me in San Francisco need to send an email to lymesf@gmail.com asking for a new patient packet.“).

I imagine that with all the publicity Nurse Savely has been having, she must be getting quite a few new patients. At $500 a visit.

[update 7/17/2006] Nurse Savely is perscribing some unusual therapies – consider this post:


I’m on my 3rd week now of taking 100 mgs twice a day – of Mebendazole (same as Febendazole, I think) that Ginger Savely prescribed me.

I don’t have the crawlies or itchies anymore, but my face still tingles with slight itchies. And I’m still removing “larvae” looking things from my face. But as far as my body, everything has stopped.