CDC: Unexplained Dermopathy (Morgellons)

The CDC has been talking about looking into “Morgellons” for a while, and I’ve been surprised they never mentioned it on their web site, despite having a phone line set up to take Morgellons related messages. Well, they finally put up a page.

It lists the symptoms of Morgellons, and says:

The etiology of this condition is unknown, and the medical community has insufficient information to determine whether persons who identify themselves as having this condition have a common cause for their symptoms or share common risk factors.

This is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. There is no evidence that Morgellons is a distinct disease. There is no evidence (insufficient information) that people who say they have Morgellons have anything in common other than their symptoms. There is no evidence of a single cause.

They also say something else I’ve always been saying:

Persons who believe they may suffer from this condition should contact a healthcare provider for evaluation and medical care.

Morgellons is currently a list of symptoms. A very long list of symptoms that can be caused by a very large number of conditions. Sure, you can “have Morgellons”, but that just means you have some of the symptoms. It does not mean you have the same thing that other Morgellons believers have.

The CDC is saying that, since there is no evidence of a common cause for this set of symptoms called Morgellons, if you have some of these symptoms, then you should go to a healthcare provider, so they can try to determine the actual causes of your symptoms, and fix them, or at least treat your symptoms.

On the title of the CDC page: “Unexplained Dermopathy” – that particular phrase was created just for Morgellons, it produced zero Google hits up until yesterday. “Dermopathy” is a disease of the skin. When a disease is “unexplained”, it is often referred to as being “idiopathic“. A very large number of skin conditions and symptoms are idiopathic. For example, Erythema Multiforme is a disease with many symptoms very similar to Morgellons (lesions, itching, malaise, joint pain and vision problems), yet 50% of the cases of EM are idiopathic. So “Unexplained Dermopathy” is really not a very good name for a distinct disease. On the other hand, it’s a good name for a large collection of unexplained cases of various dermatological symptoms.