by Barbara Minton
March 03, 2009
It sounds like something from a bad sci-fi movie.
People report the
sensation of creatures crawling under their skin, mysterious moving
fibers appear, and finally bugs and worms pop out. Unfortunately,
these terrifying symptoms are all too true. The people having them
are experiencing Morgellons, the latest and scariest in the series
of bizarre diseases appearing in the last few years, seemingly from
Morgellons is now reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S.
Morgellons is a multi-dimensional
Morgellons starts with relentless itching, stinging or biting
sensations. Cotton-like balls may appear on the body with no
reasonable explanation. Soon skin rash develops along with lesions
that will not heal.
Many sufferers report string-like fibers
of varying color popping out through the skin lesions. These fibers
can be black, white, red or even iridescent blue. Others report
black specks falling from their bodies that litter their sheets and
bathrooms. Eventually a variety of bugs and worms begin to find
their way out of the body through the lesions. Other accompanying
symptoms include hair loss, debilitating and chronic fatigue, hard
nodules beneath the skin, and joint pain.
Morgellons also has a cognitive aspect. People with the disease
experience neurological damage that manifests as difficulty
concentrating, inability to process and use language effectively,
and generalized brain fog. The presence of reduced cognitive ability
has made it easier for doctors to dismiss Morgellons and send
patients away with a diagnosis of delusional parasitosis, meaning
they are imagining they are infected by parasites.
After the typical eight minute visit,
traditional doctors pull out their prescription pads and write these
people prescriptions for antidepressants or antipsychotic
As a result, Morgellons also has a psychological component.
people become aware that symptoms such as theirs are treated as
delusions they are reluctant to seek further medical attention and
tend to withdraw from society with their only contact with others
being through the internet. They begin living the lifestyle of the
leper. Many have to give up their jobs and become dependent on
public assistance. This adds to the psychological debilitation of
the disease. Not being taken seriously when you know you have a
terrifying and devastating disease causes permanent psychological
Morgellon's victims feel the resentment other patients do when they
are told it is all in their heads. As Morgellon's progresses and the
neurological symptoms become more manifest, patients can become
difficult to care for and deal with. Isolated with only the
internet, they become less able to effectively care for themselves.
Some Morgellons patients have committed suicide.
It is a sad situation that the traditional doctor's visit must often
end in a diagnosis, but the doctor is unwilling or unable to take
the time to make sure it is a correct diagnosis. The traditional
medical set up is frequently unable to deal with patients who
present with a variety of diverse symptoms affecting several body
systems at one time.
Oakland A's player Billy Koch and his family all have Morgellons.
They have been open about their disease and have made some attempt
to educate others. Billy had to retire from his baseball career as a
result of the disease.
Singer Joni Mitchell also has Morgellons, and
the disease has negatively impacted her career as well.
Many morgellons victims end up trying
to treat themselves
Anyone with Morgellons's symptoms will probably spend a lot of time
going from doctor to doctor. While the unhelpful ones simply tell
them they are delusional, the helpful ones prescribe a variety of
creams used for scabies, ring worm and other parasitic diseases, but
nothing works for more than a few days.
With no help from the medical community,
people with Morgellons turn to the internet where they learn the
name for their disease and the names for the parasites that are
coming through their skin.
As a result of desperation and the lack
of information about the disease except from chat boards, many
victims end up trying a variety of toxic treatments at home.
Authorities on the disease are emerging
One of the few people to take the disease seriously was Randy
Wymore, a neuroscientist at Oklahoma State University Center for
He received samples from a range of
people who claimed the fibers had come through their skin. Although
the samples all resembled one another, to him they looked like no
other synthetic or natural fiber with which he compared them. He
finally asked the Tulsa police department's forensics team to
The team identified the chemical structures of the fibers and
compared them to their database of 800 fibers. They found no match,
so they used gas chromatography to compare the fibers to their data
on 90,000 organic compounds. The fibers did not match up with any of
them. They concluded that the fibers were unknown, and not
contaminants from clothing sticking to scabs on the lesions as had
been thought by those so ready to dismiss what their patients were
Wymore and the forensic team concluded that
producing these fibers was very real and very frightening.
Wymore then asked the chief of the pediatrics department at Oklahoma
State University Hospital, Rhonda Casey, to take a look at some of
the patients. At first she was tempted to dismiss them too, but she
began to realize how ill the people were. They had neurological
symptoms that included confusion, loss of control of their feet that
resulted in difficulty walking, and their mouths sagged when they
Many had been diagnosed with
Dr. Casey examined the patients, took biopsies of their lesions as
well as from their healthy skin. Using a dermatoscope, she was able
to observe fibers under completely unbroken skin. She found them
embedded in the healthy tissue of the patients as well as the
diseased tissue, and admitted seeing the full range of fiber colors.
She reported seeing a lesion on a young girl's thigh with black
fibers just barely protruding from it, and concluded that she could
not have done this to herself.
Another person taking the disease seriously is Trisha Springstead
(far below report), a
registered nurse in Florida who has become a beacon of light for Morgellon's patients in the area. She has seen the fibers come
through their skin, and has spent hours with patients extracting
parasites embedded so deeply that a needle is required to extract
According to her, a dermatoscope does
not penetrate deeply enough to reveal the full extent of parasite
CDC begins epidemiologic investigation
In April, 2006, the
CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommended an epidemiological investigation
of what they were then referring to as a public health concern. In
January, 2008 they announced a grant to health care giant Kaiser
Permanente to test and interview 150 to 500 patients suffering from Morgellons.
The study is being done in the Bay Area
of northern California, where many Morgellons patients live. Kaiser
Permanente doctors have been among the most ready to classify Morgellons as
The National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric
Diseases (ZVED) provided statements posted on the CDC
website regarding what the CDC now calls "Unexplained Dermopathy
This organization was created in 2007
under CDC's Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases. ZVED
promotes itself as proving leadership, expertise, and service in
laboratory and epidemiological science, bioterrorism preparedness,
applied research, disease surveillance, and outbreak response for
The term zoonotic refers to any disease that is able to jump the
divide from animals to people. Microbes created for bioterrorism are
zoonotic. There are many known zoonotic diseases, such as
malaria. Vectors are the transmitters of disease-causing
organisms that carry the pathogens from one host to another.
common usage, vectors are considered to be invertebrate animals,
Technically, vertebrates can also act as
vectors, including foxes, raccoons, and skunks, which can all
transmit disease to humans through a bite. Mosquitoes and ticks are
the most notable disease vectors, although mites and gnats may also
carry disease. Enteric diseases are bacterial and viral infections
of the gastrointestinal tract that account for an under appreciated
burden of morbidity and mortality domestically and abroad.
The involvement of ZVED in creating the CDC webpage for Mogellons
clearly implies acceptance by the CDC that Morgellons is a disease
involving not just fibers but parasites.
ZVED's vision statement describes three goals:
prevention, control, and preparedness of ecologically mediated
global vision, global presence, global reach, and
working at the intersection of
human, animal, and ecological health to achieve healthier
people, places, and a healthier world
The Morgellons, GMO link persists
About the time that Dr. Wymore's forensic investigation of fibers
was completed, a specialist in infectious disease detection, Ahmed Kilani, claimed to have broken down two fiber samples and extracted
He found that they belonged to a fungus.
Meanwhile, Vitaly Citovsky, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell
Biology at Stony Brook University in New York, discovered the fibers
contained the substance Agrobacteerium Tumafaciens, the bacteria
crown gall disease in plants (formation of tumors in more
than 140 species of
dicot plants). It is a genus of gram-negative
bacteria capable of genetically transforming not only plants, but
eukaryotic species, including humans.
Anonymous samples were provided to Professor Citovsky by the
Morgellon's Research Foundation to use in investigating the
potential presence of Agrobacteerium Tumafaciens in biopsies from
Morgellon's patients. Control reactions included samples provided by
healthy donors. Only Morgellons, not healthy subjects, tested
positive for the bacterium in these studies.
Professor Citovsky issued a statement saying his observation does
not imply that Agrobacteerium Tumafaciens causes Morgellons,
or that Morgellons is indeed an infectious disease.
However, he has called for further study
statistical significance of data
whether the bacterium is not
only present extracellularly, but also causes genetic
transformation of the infected tissues
whether infection of laboratory
animals with the bacterium can recreate symptoms of
Agrobacteerium Tumafaciens is a
Symptoms of grown gall disease are
caused by the insertion of a small segment of DNA into the plant
cell, which is incorporated at a semi-random location into the plant
genome. They are parasitic and detrimental to the plant.
DNA transmission capabilities of Agrobacteerium have been
extensively exploited by biotechnologists as a means for inserting
foreign genes into plants. They discovered the gene transfer
mechanism between Agrobacteerium and plants, and developed
methods to alter Agrobacteerium into an efficient delivery
system for gene engineering in plants.
This is done by cloning the desired gene
sequence into the transfer DNA (T-DNA) that will be inserted into
the host DNA. Under laboratory conditions the T-DNA has also been
transferred to human cells, demonstrating the diversity of insertion
The mechanism through which Agrobacteerium inserts materials into the host cell is very
similar to mechanisms used by pathogens to insert materials (usually
proteins) into human cells.
Expert Says Awareness and Early Treatment are Paramount
by Barbara Minton
March 06, 2009
Morgellons is a terrifying disease
reaching pandemic status.
Yet because the symptoms of the disease
are so bizarre, people who have it tend to withdraw and become
isolated from society. With mysterious fibers and parasites coming
through lesions in their skin, Morgellons sufferers often live in
As a result there is no pressure on the
medical establishment to become educated about the disease, and most
practitioners continue to view it as isolated instances of
Because Morgellons affects cognitive
functioning and the ability to communicate, its victims are often
unable to advocate for themselves, and few are knowledgeable or
willing to advocate for them.
Trisha Springstead, a former
surgical charge nurse and clinical educator who now works as an
advocate for patient's rights, has stepped in to fill some of this
Both knowledgeable and experienced with
Morgellons, Trisha agreed to be interviewed to provide the kind of
insight into the disease that can only come from direct experience.
Barbara: Trisha, thank you
for doing this interview. It's time for information about this
disease to become widely available. Hopefully this is a start.
Is incidence of Morgellons confined to the U.S.?
Trisha: Morgellons is everywhere. It's in Australia,
England, Germany. The only country where people have not
reported cases of Moregllons is Iceland. Dr. Neculai Dulceanu,
Head of the Department of Parasitology in Romania just scraped
these from the skin of a 75 year old woman there [shows slides
of fibers and parasites]. He found
her skin using a needle aspiration biopsy. As you can see, this
shows how the fibers and parasites are intermixed.
When you look
deep enough into the skin, this is what you find.
No one truly knows how many people have this disease, as many of
the persons I have spoken with have not reported to any
database. Most people with Morgellons seem to think they are the
only ones who have it, so awareness is paramount. It is so
important for me to let new patients know they are not alone,
and that there are thousands and thousands of people with this
What I have seen is that so very many people are isolating
themselves. With increased awareness and validation, I am
beginning to get phone calls from isolated people who have only
had this disease for a short time, like five months. These
people get referred to me by word of mouth and my name is all
over the internet.
When people with the disease peruse
the internet they find my name and email me or call me. This is
the best time to get patients, because at this point they just
have the crawling and biting sensations. The disease is not yet
full blown. Last week I had 30 calls. I have a phone number that
is in my lab, and young people in their twenties and thirties
are calling. This is because they are internet savvy.
I've set up an internet reporting site where people can report
that they suspect they have Morgellons. I send those reports to
my Congresswoman Ginny Brown Waite. Congresswoman Waite sent a
letter to the head of the CDC in May of 2007.
Now there is a new head at the CDC
and we are back and square one tying to get them to understand
what is going on.
Barbara: Tell me some numbers so we can get a feel for
the scope of the disease as it is now.
Morgellons Research Foundation has over
13,561 reported families. Not persons, but families. Oklahoma
State University has over 20,000 families registered. About 600
people have reported their disease to me, and some have reported
to the CDC. My source at CDC told me that this is the most
reported disease entity since the reports of HIV/AIDS. And yet
so many people have not reported out of fear. The CDC wants to
keep it quiet because they are afraid of mass hysteria and mass
There is a huge concern among many sufferers that they are going
to be rounded up and put in a camp like lepers, so they don't
My husband is an orthopedic surgeon. He has seen six Morgellons
patients come into his office, in a very small town,
Brookville. These people just happened to come to him for their
joint problems, and I have taught him what to look for to
diagnose Morgellons. Barbara, if he has seen six right here, it
means there is a huge epidemic. And since it is world wide, it
is a pandemic.
The sufferers are frenzied, and scared. I can tell you with
utmost certainty, at this point in the syndrome there is not a
state large enough to hold all these sufferers. Look at the
numbers from Oklahoma State University. The people with this
disease are so secretive and opaque that this 20,000 is just the
tip of the iceberg in my estimation.
I have a teleconference call every Tuesday evening with nurses
from Florida to Alaska who are working with Morgellons
sufferers. Last evening we went from 9 pm to 12:30 in the
morning. I spoke to them regarding advocacy and how to help
If you are interested I will see if
they wouldn't mind getting you in on the next phone call. It is
the nurses that are the ones who are giving out information and
trying to help others and teach the doctors about this emerging
Barbara: I'm almost afraid to ask this, but is the
Trisha: The jury is out on that as far as I am concerned.
Many of the nurses caring for these people in hiding do not have
the disease. I believe some can be contagious but I truly
believe that would be the exception and not the rule. Do I
believe that some were exposed to something else at the same
time they contracted this... absolutely.
I interviewed the captain of a boat
on Monday and I spent five hours in their home. They were the
most kind and decent people. The husband has the disease, but
the wife and children do not. I hugged them all and did a very
in depth assessment. Dr. Randy Wymore does not have the disease,
and all the doctors I work with except two of them do not have
Hundreds of people I have spoken
with have one or two family members that have the disease, and
the rest do not.
Barbara: What happens to people who are so reluctant to
Trisha: Since doctors are so unresponsive to these
people, they have gone to the internet. There are boards all
over where people talk about this disease. There are many videos
on YouTube. They are giving each other advice and there are no
medical professionals there to tell them whoa... hold on... please
don't bathe in bleach, ammonia or toxic chemicals. Hold up on
the dangerous advice.
People who listen to this type of
advice are going to have to make a decision in a few years about
what type of lung cancer treatment they want. Or they will be
looking for a liver transplant, because they have poisoned
themselves. People with Morgellons become very desperate and
understandably so, but treating themselves with chemicals they
don't understand is so dangerous.
Some take de-wormers and
Albendazole for the weight of a horse because they don't know
how to calculate kilograms of body weight, and they get the
stuff from a vet or a feed store.
Barbara: What is the knowledge about how Morgellons is
Trisha: No one knows for certain how it is being
GMOs certainly have not been ruled out. Actually,
nothing has been ruled out. I keep going back to water, soil,
mold and pesticides. Water, soil, mold and pesticides, but I
haven't as yet been able to get beyond that to a true
I personally believe that it is
man's misuse of the earth with Frankenscience, GMOs, and
thinking they can rearrange natural ecosystems of the earth that
has created this mess. I believe the disease is also vector
borne in many cases. Some of the people I have spoken with
distinctly remember a bite, then a red, raised area on the skin.
Then it became a rash, ulcers and
full blown lesions all over their bodies. Then the bugs. The
bugs are the progression of Morgellons. No doubt about it.
The sicker the patients become, the
more the parasites build up in the body, the deeper the brain
fog, and then they begin purging out bugs.
Vitaly Citovsky at Stonybrook in
New York studied the fibers of 10 patients and said they had
Agrobacteerium Tumafaciens in their bodies (the bacterium that
causes crown gall disease in plants), but what amazed him the most
was that he found a biofilm on the skins of these people.
It is almost like a pseudo skin. We have
to penetrate that biofilm and draw this stuff out of the body or
these people will never get better. If you don't, it will stay in
the skin and get worse.
Dr. Kalani said the fibers from Morgellons patients were
Because the body becomes like soil, fungus is attracted. The fibers
are coated with the Agobacterium, which is a pathogenic fungus also
Agent Green. Whether it is getting in the lungs, being
ingested, or is vector borne or transmitted sweat to sweat is the
I took slides to my friend who is an entomologist and we found
fungal hyphae, alternarium, and pathogenic funguses on the slides.
These are not things that grow in humans. They are organisms that
grow in plants.
So the human bodies of these sufferers are becoming
like soil and that does that attract? Fungus, mold and parasites.
The bodies of people with Morgellons become very acidic and so we
are working with pH buffers. Johns Hopkins and even Harvard have
proven that many chronic diseases, especially cancer, cannot survive
in a perfectly alkaline body. So, just as we raise soil alkalinity
to make it more hospitable to plant life, we must alkalinize the
body to fight these pathogens.
If you look at
my website, there is an
alkaline chart and an 80% alkaline, 20% acidic diet is on there. But
if you can't do it with diet, you can buffer your pH safely. There
are websites that have great pH buffers and teach sufferers how to
check their urine twice a day. If they are too acidic, they can take
two buffers and not the whole bottle, and check their urine again in
We have so many people who worked at the Aberdeen Proving grounds
(site of munitions testing in Maryland) that now have Morgellons.
They were truckers for a multimillion dollar company called Horvath.
I called the owner of Horvath and told
"Do you not understand that you have
truckers who are very sick because they were exposed to soil
contaminants at Aberdeen?"
This woman, Sheila Horvath, said,
"[S]peak to my lawyer".
No one wants to go up against this
company in Maryland because they have power and money. The people
with the disease and I want to know what was in that soil.
There are Morgellons sufferers in the Poconos and I speak with them
when I can. They are having a hard time getting lost wages and
disability, and have been called delusional. Barbara, they are the
salt of the earth, just good, kind people. They are not delusional.
I am beginning to think the doctors who label them only say
"delusional" because they don't want to look at this.
Then, as you know, there are doctors with this disease.
Dr. James Matthews in Maryland
almost lost his license because he was trying to help people. I saw
where you commented on Dr. Beverly Drottar in your earlier article.
They are the tip of the iceberg. How many biologists have this
disease? I know that nurses are the number one reported sufferers,
and that teachers are number two. Is it because they are reporting
their disease and not hiding? That is a question I have been asking
in this political quagmire, but I have no answers.
I just spoke with a woman in Tampa whose husband has had Morgellons
for three years. She has a drawer full of anti-psychotic
prescriptions. Their home in Grand Cayman was flooded. When they
went back to it two months after the storm, he contracted Morgellons.
She told me you could smell the mold from the street.
Now he is a full blown case because they
searched for three years to get help before they finally found Dr.
Susan Kolb in Atlanta. Now he has lesions all over his legs, moving
into his abdomen with bugs coming out of his body. I got him in to
see Dr. Cheryl Reed in Tampa. I just spoke to her and she said he is
a mess. She is getting labs to determine his liver enzymes, and is
doing other studies.
The jury is still out on him.
Fusarium Oxysporum is a pathogenic fungus that we have seen
in skin scrapings from patients. This is being sprayed on crops in
the war on drugs.
I have guys coming back from Afganistan
with the disease. What is the biggest crop there? Opium.