No infection, environmental cause found for Morgellons

February 1, 2012

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a study that finds no evidence linking Morgellons disease to an infection or environmental cause.

Atlanta - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a study that finds no evidence linking Morgellons disease to an infection or environmental cause.

The finding is based on research conducted by CDC scientists in response to increasing reports of symptoms of Morgellons, a controversial condition marked by fatigue, crawling sensations and reports of fibers embedded in the skin. Investigators analyzed blood and skin samples from 115 patients in northern California.

ABC News quotes CDC spokesman Daniel Rutz as saying, “We saw a growing number of people complaining about these unusual symptoms, and as a public health agency, we felt the need to see what was going on. It was important to rule out an infectious cause because a lot of people were concerned about transmission.”

Another report, from CBS News, noted that most of the afflicted patients in the study were middle-aged white women. One hundred of the patients agreed to answer survey questions and 40 consented to physical and psychological tests. The study found that none of the patients had a disease, but a greater percentage suffered from depression than is common in the general public and were more obsessive about physical ailments.

Researchers also found that about 40 percent of the skin samples showed signs of chronic irritation. ABC News quotes Mr. Rutz as saying, “These sores appear often to be the result of people picking at themselves, as they would if they had a chronic irritation that couldn’t be resolved any other way.”

According to CBS News, a recent Mayo Clinic study of 108 patients with Morgellons symptoms found that none of the patients had an unusual physical ailment. The Mayo study, results of which were released last May, concluded that sores on many of the patients were caused by their own scratching and picking. Some doctors believe Morgellons is a form of delusional parasitosis, a psychosis in which people believe they are infected with parasites.

Nonetheless, CBS News quotes Felicia Goldstein, Ph.D., an Emory University neurology professor who took part in the CDC study, as saying, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” adding that patients might be helped by cognitive behavioral therapy that could help them deal with possible contributing psychological issues.
The CDC study was published in the journal PLoS One.

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