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Morgellons Disease

Morgellons is a multi-symptom disease that is currently being researched at the OSU Center for Health Sciences.  Morgellons Disease is frequently misdiagnosed as delusional parasitosis or obsessive picking disorder.


Morgellons Disease

Symptoms
  • Sponanteously Erupting Skin lesions
  • Sensation of crawling, biting on and under the skin
  • Appearance of blue, black or red fibers and granules beneath and/or extruding from the skin
  • Fatigue
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Attention Deficit, Bipolar or Obsessive-Compulsive disorders
  • Impaired thought processing (brain fog)
  • Depression and feelings of isolation
Who
  • Adults and Children are equally affected by the disease.
  • Individuals in families can experience symptoms of the disease while other members are unaffected.  it is not known, at this point, if the disease is contagious or inherited.
  • Multiple members of a family can have symptoms.
Where
  • Most cases in the United States are from specific geographic regions of California, Texas and Florida, though all 50 states have had reported cases. 
  • Oklahoma has reported numerous probable cases.
  • It has been reported worldwide in places such as Europe, South Africa, Japan, The Philippines, Indonesia and Australia
When
  • The name "Morgellons Disease" is based on the description of a similar fiber producing condition, found in children by Sir Thomas Browne in 1674. Microscopic drawings, dating from 1682 by Dr. Michel Etmuller appear to be similar to the fibers from present-day sufferers.
  • There is no evidence giving preference to one season being a more likely time to contract the disease.
  • There are patients who have claimed to have had the symptoms for as long as two decades. Most were diagnosed with Delusional Parasitosis and/or Obsessive Picking of the skin.
  • Medical research started in earnest in 2005 at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa by Randy Wymore, Ph.D.
Why
  • There are doctors who believe it is related to an infectious agent, perhaps in the same family as that which causes Lyme Disease. There is no evidence to prove this theory at the present time.
  • Attention needs to be drawn to Morgellons so:
    • Doctors will become informed and make accurate diagnoses
    • Insurance companies will cover medical expenses
    • Major government organizations (the CDC, for example) will pay attention and start funding research
How
  • There is no definitive understanding of how the disease is transmitted.
  • There is no conclusive evidence showing whether it is contagious. Some families have only one member who is affected, even after long exposure, while other families report multiple sufferers.
  • A cure will be pursued when enough research is done to find its cause.
  • You can help by:
    • Contributing time, money and resources.
    • Spreading accurate information and combating ignorance about the disease.

 

Research

Morgellons disease, a little-known and often discounted illness, lacks the solid scientific data needed to point to a definitive cause.

Questions
  • Preliminary evidence suggests that Morgellons Disease is not DOP (delusions of parasites).
  • Is it one disease, or a complex syndrome?
  • Is the cause of lesions biological, environmental or genetic?
  • How do we cure the disease or give relief to the sufferers?
Possible Causes
  • Viral
  • Parasitic
  • Fungal
  • Bacterial
  • Environmental contamination
Research Steps
  • A scientific advisory board directs research steps as we progress in our studies.
  • We initiate controlled, detailed studies of Morgellons sufferers. After approval by the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board, samples will come directly from patients in a clinical setting.
  • We look for any new or unusual specimens in the slowly-healing lesions by collecting specimens from known sufferers.
  • Once received, the samples are de-identified so that they are anonymous to researchers and faculty and the samples from patients are analyzed for unusual microbial organisms.   
  • PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is used to amplify DNA, followed by DNA sequence analysis.
  • The unusual fibers are analyzed chemically using spectroscopic techniques to determine the composition.

 

Vision and Goals

Reaserch Goals
  • Tissue bank and specimen repository at OSU-CHS
    • Centralized collection site for samples
    • Cataloging of Morgellons-related specimens
    • Storage for future studies
  • Epidemiology of Morgellons Disease
    • Patient registrations on OSU-server
    • Formal epidemiological studies; initiated at OSU-CHS
      • Collaborate with public health officials and other universities
  • Biomedical research
    • Microscopic, chemical and spectroscopic analyses
    • Survey of microbiological populations
    • Explore possible links with environmental or genetic factors
    • Identify the cause of Morgellons Disease
Clinical Goals
  • Improve the quality of life of Morgellons sufferers
    • Diagnostic evaluations
    • Treatment of associated symptoms
    • Partner with mental health professionals/organizations to participate in treatment
      • Offer hope for the future
      • Reduced number of suicides
  • Refine the case definition
    • Increased physician participation/observations
  • Identify optimal diagnostic markers
  • Develop optimal treatment protocols
  • Cure Morgellons Disease
Educational Goals
  • Public education about Morgellons Disease
    • Disseminate future clinical information to the public
  • Educate public health officials
    • Disseminate information to city/county, state and CDC officials
  • Continuing medical education of physicians
  • Research/treatment seminars
  • Annual conference for presentation of research and clinical progress
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