L.A.'s phantom disease

The federal Centers for Disease Control have moved a team of epidemiology specialists into Los Angeles to investigate what's up with Morgellons disease. Many doctors say the disorder flatly doesn't exist and that the symptoms reported by a growing number of patients are essentially a form of delusion. Doctors call it delusional parasitosis, a disorder known through history in which people report seeing or feeling bugs on and under the skin. From today's Health section in the Times:

Whether its origin is infection or delusion, the symptoms reported by those who believe they have Morgellons are horrific. Patients feel a sensation of bugs or worms crawling and biting under their skin, and often report seeing them emerge. They observe odd fibers or filaments on, or coming out of, their flesh. They suffer lesions, rashes and wounds that either do not or cannot heal possibly because victims scratch and pick at itches, repeatedly opening their skin....

Those stricken with Morgellons, the document reports, generally suffer also from chronic fatigue, cognitive difficulties described by patients as "brain fog," and "behavioral effects" that mimic symptoms of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit disorder.

The CDC team doesn't use the term Morgellons, which was coined by the mother of a sufferer, but the agency considers the Internet-fueled reports of symptoms too numerous to ignore. Another factor in the CDC's interest: inquiries from the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Got there first: Here's an piece last week in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, and from last July in the Dallas Observer.


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