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Border mystery disease: Is huge scare even real?
Posted By Ron Strom On 05/18/2006 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Fibers removed from facial lesion of 3-year-old boy
A nonprofit foundation is working to drum up awareness of a border-area mystery disease that’s been described as something out of a horror film, but which most mainstream doctors refuse to admit exists.
The Morgellons Research Foundation hopes to inform lawmakers and public-health officials of the disease to try to work toward an eventual cure.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Morgellons disease, a mysterious infection seemingly similar to one documented 300 years ago, is spreading throughout South Texas. While the disease has not been known to kill and doesn’t appear to be contagious, it’s the horrible symptoms that have some working feverishly to find an effective treatment.
The South Texas outbreak’s proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border comes at a time when the issues of illegal immigration, border security and possible amnesty for over 12 million illegal aliens are being debated in the U.S.
According to the foundation’s website, symptoms include skin lesions that do not heal, a crawling sensation on the surface of the skin, fatigue, cognitive difficulties and, perhaps the most disturbing, fibers popping out of the skin.
Fibers removed from facial lesion of 3-year-old boy
States the site: “[The fibers] are generally described by patients as white, but clinicians also report seeing blue, green, red, and black fibers, that fluoresce when viewed under ultraviolet light (Wood’s lamp).”
Travis Wilson, a Morgellons sufferer for over a year, once called his mother in to see a fiber coming out of a lesion in his chest.
“It looked like a piece of spaghetti was sticking out about a quarter to an eighth of an inch long and it was sticking out of his chest,” Lisa Wilson told the San Antonio Express-News. “I tried to pull it as hard as I could out and I could not pull it out.
“He’d have attacks and fibers would come out of his hands and fingers, white, black and sometimes red. Very, very painful,” said Wilson.
A variety of other symptoms range from neurological and gastrointestinal problems to changes in skin pigment. Some people have also reported black, tarry beads of sweat.
While it’s impossible to know how many Americans – who appear to be concentrated in California, Texas and Florida – suffer with the disease, the foundation says thousands with one or more symptom have registered with it.
Even so, most of the medical community don’t see the disease as real, with some doctors telling patients it’s all in their head.
“They (doctors) told me I was just doing this to myself, that I was nuts. So basically I stopped going to doctors because I was afraid they were going to lock me up,” said sufferer Stephanie Bailey.
A big question medical professionals are wrestling with is how victims come down with the disease.
“It is difficult to say whether Morgellons is contagious,” states the FAQ page on the foundation’s site. “Many of our group have family members who exhibit no symptoms whatever. On the other hand, many entire families have reported becoming infected at or near the same time. At this juncture, it remains unclear if these households with multiple infected members reflect contagion, due to human-to-human transmission, or some type of mutual exposure.”
The name for the disease comes from a condition involving “black hairs” emerging from the skin of children, which was documented in France in the 1600s. While experts say it is doubtful the modern-day disease is linked to the 17th century occurrences, the name was chosen, says the Morgellons Foundation, to provide “a consistent label when addressing politicians, physicians and health departments.”
Mary Leitao is executive director of the Morgellons Foundation. She became involved several years ago when her 2-year-old son began exhibiting symptoms.
“The goal of the foundation is to find a cure for Morgellons disease,” Leitao told WND. “The other goal is to determine the cause.”
Leitao explained that Randy Wymore, Ph.D., of Oklahoma State University is working on getting research work started at the school.
“His goal is to see patients and to investigate it medically and scientifically,” Leitao said.
One obstacle, she explained, is that there is not a diagnostic test for Morgellons disease. Even so, Leitao stressed that the skin lesions with fibers appears to be a symptom that links nearly all victims.
“If a physician is able to view these skin lesions under magnification, they may see these fibers,” Leitao said.
Since the disease is hard to pin down, treatments vary widely.
Said Leitao: “Some physicians are treating it with pretty high-dose antibiotics. Others are using other meds, including pain medications. It can be a very uncomfortable disease for people.”
Leitao said officials at the Centers for Disease Control are “not sure there’s a situation going on here” so are reticent to take action.
“I don’t think the CDC has heard from enough physicians, because many physicians don’t recognize the illness,” she said. “They just think the illness is psychosomatic.”
Leitao stressed she is committed to finding a cure because of the devastation she has seen in the lives of victims. Many no longer work because of the brain fog that often accompanies the disorder.
“They can’t mentally focus on tasks,” she said. “They’re extremely fatigued and severely depressed – in addition to the skin symptoms.”
Indeed, Travis Wilson committed suicide three weeks ago.
“I knew he was going to kill himself, and there was nothing I could do to stop him,” his mother said.
Dr. Adelaide Hebert of the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston is unconvinced Morgellons is an actual medical disorder.
“I think if we look at what is truly evidence-based medicine, what has been proven based on scientific fact we know we don’t have a means to substantiate [Morgellons],” Hebert told KVUE-TV.
Hebert believes Morgellons exists only in the patient’s mind.
“Many of these patients do have delusion of parasitosis,” Hebert is quoted as saying. “It is actually not uncommon to have patients come in and describe the sensation that something is crawling on their skin.”
Ginger Savely is a nurse practitioner in Austin, Texas, who has documented over 100 incidents of Morgellons.
“[Sufferers] can’t get anybody to help them in the medical profession. It’s just a nightmare, a living nightmare. I can’t imagine any worse disease,” she told the TV station.
Some doctors who do recognize the disorder as a medical disease sit on the Medical Advisory Board of the Morgellons Research Foundation.
Says Gregory V. Smith, M.D., a member of the board: “This disorder is much more common than anyone suspects. … During the course of my practice activity, I have seen numerous children … a minimum of three children daily in my office with suspicious skin lesions.”
Adds another board member, William T. Harvey, M.D.: “The Morgellon’s phenomenon is real. It is also clearly devastating, life-shortening and infectious. I have observed the herald lesions microscopically with their central fibers in dozens of patients.”
Leitao remains hopeful for a cure – not only for her own son but countless others.
“It’s a bizarre disease; I will admit to that,” Leitao said. “But it’s a real disease and the people need real help.”
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