Morgellons is by far the best known example of one of several similar conditions characterized by crawling sensations, skin problems (lesions and sores), and the finding of fibers on the skin. The more general term for a condition like this is a “Fiber Disease”. Mary Leitao discovered it on the internet in 2002, and decided it applied to her son’s eczema She called it “Morgellons”, and started an internet phenomena. But the exact same list of symptoms has been around for a lot longer.
Of course, as the Morgellons Research Foundation points out, since these conditions resemble Delusions of Parasitosis, then similar things must have been happening at least since DP was first described over a hundred years ago. What is relatively new is the formation of groups that band together in their insistence that their conditions are caused by some unidentified parasite, toxin, or infectious agent. There are various groups, and various theories, dating back many years.
The following is a brief time-line of various important points in the development of Fiber Disease organizations.
1947, in Skin Manifestations of Internal Disorders, Kurt Weiner describes DP patients who:
“persistently bring little follicular plugs, scales, or woolen fibers wrapped in paper or kept in a box to convince the doctor they have worms or insects in their skin”
1951, Feb – Jay Traver published her paper “Unusual Scalp Dermatitis in Humans Caused by the Mite, Dermatophagoides“. This describes her experiences since 1934 of her own belief in infestation, but inability to get doctors to concur. While she does not mention fibers, her account is often pointed to as validation by people with the fiber disease. Later examination of her evidence concluded the few mites she found were ordinary dust mites, and Traver was in fact suffering from delusional parasitosis (see: John O’Donel Alexander, 1984, Arthropods and Human Skin)
1995 – Approximate date of cases of “NCS” described by Amin in 2001, below.
1995 – Approximate date that NPA started recording cases of “an increasing number of individuals reporting lice or scabies but describing symptoms inconsistent with either of these parasites.”
1996 – Approximate start of popular usage of the internet. From 1996 to 2007, internet usage grows from 16 million to 1093 Million. The internet is a major factor in spreading knowledge of the fiber diseases.
1998, Dec – Oldest archived version of the NUSPA web site. States:
However, because the parasite appears to have so many different metamorphic features, many of which may resemble, human hair, fabric or lint (for example) turn of the century physicians wrongly assumed their patients must have been suffering from a psychosomatic illness rather than a disease.
Rashes, lesions, itching, burning sensations, track marks, scratches, and papules appear from nowhere on the surface of the skin, along with burrows under the skin, containing what the sufferer describes as “eggs”. Some people complain of having symptoms in only one spot on the skin ( i.e., scalp, face, rectum, groin area) while others are infested from head to toe. Acute insomnia can also be a symptom of this disease.
Black specks, iridescent crystals, microscopic hairs, wormlike creatures, hairlike creatures (the size of an eyelash to several inches long, and colors ranging from transparent to shinny black) “lintlike balls” bloody and/saltlike granules and threads, have all been described as emerging from the lesions. Often clothes, bedding, carpets, furniture and cars are heavily infested, again without remedy.
1999, Feb –Postings on parasite mailing list mention parasites that look like “lint” and “hairs”. (Posts byJules and Curtis W. King.)
1999, Oct – Posting on “Elliot’s Disease“, mentions involvement with the NPA.
2000, Feb – NPA has a “Reporting Registry” for Elliot’s Disease (or: “undetermined pathogens which may mimic lice and scabies“), listing the following symptoms:
Sores or lesions, Biting or stinging sensation, Itching, Lumps on head/scalp, Sticky residue on skin, Sparkly particles on skin, Scaling skin, Hair breaking off, White specks on skin, Black specks on skin, Problem in genital area, Itchy, watery eyes, Crawling sensation, Rash, Tracking marks on skin, Hard/crusty shell-like particles on skin, Fibers/lint/fuzzy artifacts, Hair-like dust particles, Symptoms worse at night, Tiny salt-like crystals on skin, Skin discoloration, Scarring
2001, Summer, Mary Leitao finds fibers on her son’s skin. She finds a “Scabies Forum” on the internet where people are discussing finding fibers.
2001, Nov – Neuro-cutaneous Syndrome (NCS): A New Disorder, published by Omar M. Amin in Discover Magazine.
2002, March – Morgellons.com and Morgellons.org domain names registered.
2002, July – Posting by Mary Leitao on medhelp.org mentions morgellons.org, and says:
The symptoms of this skin disease include stinging, pruritic (itchy), non-healing skin lesions. FIBERS of unknown origin are found deep within skin lesions, and are NOT the result of clothing or environmental fibers. Oils or lotions rubbed into the skin can cause many of these fibers to surface on clean skin.
2002, Dec – First Usenet mention of Morgellons, seems to be an excerpt from Rense.com linking Morgellons to chemtrails.
2003, Jun – The Morgellons Foundation, first recorded web site on archive.org, stating:
Individuals with the Morgellons experience itchy, inflamed, non-healing skin lesions. Stinging sensations are common. Unexplained hairloss is seen in a segment of the patient population, as well as a hardening or thickening of skin.
One of the most striking features of the Morgellons is the presence of fibers or filaments of unknown origin on or within skin lesions.
2003, Aug – NPA writes article on Collembola infestation based on digitally altered images, published May 2004.
2004, March, the first local TV News segment on Morgellons at KTVU, orchestrated by Ken Cowles. This is the start of a media campaign that culminates in the summer of 2006 with the ABC Medical Mysteries segment.
2004, May – Earliest mention of Morgellons on CherokeeChas.com (Later home of the NMO)
2004, Dec – Earliest Mention of Morgellons on Lymebusters.
2005, May – Oldest archived Morgellons post on Lymebusters message board.
2005, May – W. John Martin proposes “Alternate cellular energy pigments” as a cause of the Fiber Disease
2005, Aug – A mammoth single thread is started on biology-online.org, entitled “The Fiber Disease“, the thread runs around 7000 posts until Jan 2007, when it is locked.
2006, Apr – MorgellonsWatch.com earliest post, highlighting some inconsistencies on the MRF site.
2006, Aug – The MRF splits in two, and the NMO is formed.