What Does Morgellons Disease Look Like?
Morgellons disease is a skin condition caused by microscopic organisms called Mycobacterium ulcerans. These organisms are found in the environment such as soil, dust, water and even food. They may live in animal or human feces. People with morgellons disease have been known to develop it after touching contaminated surfaces or eating undercooked meat. Other possible sources include insect bites, swimming in contaminated water and from contact with infected animals.
The organism infects the body through direct contact with the skin or mucous membranes. Symptoms usually appear within one to three months after exposure and they vary depending on which parts of the body are affected. Some people experience no symptoms at all while others develop severe itching, burning sensations, rashes and sores on their bodies.
Some people do not feel sick until later in the illness. Others develop flu-like symptoms, fatigue and headaches before dying. There is no cure for morgellons disease but there are medications available to treat some of its symptoms.
How Is Morgellons Disease Diagnosed?
A doctor will examine your skin samples to determine if you have developed morgellons disease. During this process, he or she will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. You will also be asked if you live in or have visited an area where the disease is common. Your doctor may do a skin scraping to look for tiny bacterial organisms under your skin. A blood test can reveal if you have an over-active inflammatory response.
How Is Morgellons Disease Treated?
The treatment for morgellons disease depends on the severity of your symptoms. You may get treatment to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
There are no medications that have been proven to eliminate the cause of the condition. Instead, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to fight potential infection. Other commonly used medications include analgesics for pain, antihistamines for itching and sedatives for restlessness or trouble sleeping.
Your doctor can also provide creams and ointments to relieve symptoms such as skin irritation.
Most people with the condition get better within one or two years although some people have permanent symptoms.
Can Morgellons Disease Be Prevented?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent people from getting infected with morgellons disease. The best way to avoid getting infected is to avoid contact with areas where the infection is known to be. These areas include soil, water and wild game in the U.S. and Mexico. You should also thoroughly cook meat before eating it and avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
What Is The Future Of Morgellons Disease?
Currently, there is no known cure for morgellons disease although ongoing research is being carried out to find effective treatments. It is hoped that a full understanding of the disease will lead to a cure in the future.
Some sufferers have opted to treat the disease using natural and alternative therapies. While these approaches have not been scientifically proven to be effective, they may reduce symptoms such as itching or pain and are considered safe when used in addition to standard medical treatment.
What Are The Current Morgellons Disease Statistics?
Morgellons disease is currently a very rare condition and most medical professionals have not seen a case. It was only recognized as a disease in the last decade and there are still ongoing investigations to try to understand more about it.
At present, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recorded around 12,000 cases although it is believed that this number is a severe underestimate of the true number of people affected. The majority of these cases are found within the U.S but the disease is also found in other areas such as Europe, Australia and parts of Africa.
The CDC have identified an area in California where they believe that a certain form of morgellons disease is more likely to develop in comparison to other areas. This region contains around 1,600 residents whose immune systems are believed to be most likely to react adversely with the local soil.
Although morgellons disease has only recently been identified, evidence of a similar condition has been found in 19th century medical records. A letter to the editor of the New England Medical Gazette in 1849 described the condition in a woman who had developed unusual markings on her skin. These growths were reported to “…
consist of fine red, blue, black and gray filaments, mixed with little specks, somewhat resembling cotton in appearance.”
Is Morgellons Disease Fatal?
Morgellons disease is not currently known to be fatal although its long-term effects are not fully understood.
Sources & references used in this article:
The mystery of Morgellons disease by VR Savely, MM Leitao, RB Stricker – American journal of clinical …, 2006 – Springer
Morgellons disease? by RE Accordino, D Engler, IH Ginsburg… – Dermatologic …, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
The challenge of Morgellons disease by CS Koblenzer – Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2006 – jaad.org
Morgellons disease: the mystery unfolds by VR Savely, RB Stricker – Expert Review of Dermatology, 2007 – Taylor & Francis
Morgellons disease: analysis of a population with clinically confirmed microscopic subcutaneous fibers of unknown etiology by VR Savely, RB Stricker – Clinical, cosmetic and investigational …, 2010 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Exploring the association between Morgellons disease and Lyme disease: identification of Borrelia burgdorferi in Morgellons disease patients by MJ Middelveen, C Bandoski, J Burke, E Sapi… – BMC dermatology, 2015 – Springer
Characterization and evolution of dermal filaments from patients with Morgellons disease by MJ Middelveen, PJ Mayne, DG Kahn… – Clinical, cosmetic and …, 2013 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov