Morgellons, a straight-out-of-science-fiction type syndrome will be the subject of a major new study, federal health officials said Wednesday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has contracted with Kaiser Permanente Northern California to investigate the mystery disease which makes sufferers feel like bugs are crawling under their skin. Symptoms include itching, biting and crawling sensations and red, blue or black filaments that emerge from skin lesions.
“The cause of this condition is unknown,” Dr. Michele Pearson, principal investigator with the CDC, said during a telephone news conference Wednesday. “Those who suffer from this condition, as well as their families and physicians, have questions, and we want to help them find meaningful answers.”
The San Francisco Bay Area is believed to be one of the nation’s hot spots for the malady, according to a patient registry maintained by the Morgellons Research Foundation, an advocacy group. Others include the Los Angeles region, Texas and Florida.
Scientists and doctors continue to debate whether Morgellons (pronounced mor-GELL-uns) represents a real, physical disease or is a type of mental illness. People suffering from the syndrome are typically treated with psychiatric drugs, although one clinic in Texas has treated patients with long-term antibiotics.
In addition to the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin and the mysterious
fibers, patients also complain of fatigue, joint pain, hair loss, vision problems and difficulty in thinking clearly.