originally published April 13, 2008
by Barbara L. Minton
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has given care giant Kaiser Permanente over $300,000 to test and interview 150 to 500 patients suffering from Morgellons Disease. The study will be done in northern California where many Morgellons patients live.
Prior to this news, people had written off the disease as a hoax or the result of hypochondria. But recent evidence suggests that the disease is indeed real, and may be related to genetically modified (GM) food.
What is Morgellons Disease?
On August 1, 2007, the CDC issued the following statement regarding Morgellons Disease: "Morgellons is an unexplained and debilitating condition that has emerged as a public health concern. Recently, the CDC has received an increased number of inquiries from the public, health care providers, public health officials, Congress, and the media regarding this condition. Persons who suffer from this condition report a range of coetaneous symptoms including crawling, biting and stinging sensations; granules, threads or black speck-like materials on or beneath the skin; and/or lesions (e.g., rashes or sores) and some sufferers also report systemic manifestations such as fatigue, mental confusion, short term memory loss, joint pain, and changes in vision. Moreover, some who suffer from this condition appear to have substantial morbidity and social dysfunction, which can include decreased work productivity or job loss, total disability, familial estrangement, divorce, loss of child custody, home abandonment, and suicidal ideation."
Research Foundation (As of February, 2007, approximately 10,000 families had registered with the Morgellons MRF) and felt they or a member of their family met criteria for Morgellons as defined by the MRF. Of the U.S. families in the MRF registry, 24% reside in California with geographic clustering in the San Francisco metropolitan areas.
In New Science magazine, Sept. 15-21 edition, Daniel Elkan describes a patient who for years has been "finding tiny blue, red and black fibers growing from intensely itchy lesions on his skin." These fibers appear like pliable plastic and can be several millimeters long. Some appear in a zig-zag pattern. These fibers can be as fine as spider silk, yet they are strong enough to distend the skin when pulled.
A May 18, 2006 story carried by KGW, a local news channel in Oregon, recounts the story of a family practice doctor experiencing the disease. She reported feeling like bugs were crawling under her skin. "If I fully tell people what has gone on with me medically, they think they're in the twilight zone," said Dr. Drottar who woke up with the feeling that fluid was flowing just below her skin. When black or blue hair-like fibers protruded from her skin, she reported thinking she had been exposed to asbestos. "I thought I was having asbestos fibers come out of my skin. I was pulling long, thin, small hair-like fibers that were extremely sharp that could literally pierce through my finger nail."
According to Dr. Drottar, these symptoms were accompanied by severe depression, chronic fatigue and a weakened immune system. This debilitating condition forced her to give up her medical practice.
Effective treatment for Morgellons sufferers has been elusive. Doctors have claimed that this type of disease must be caused by a parasite, but even the strongest anti-parasitic medications have not helped. In the past, psychologists have insisted that this was a new version of delusional parasitosis, a form of psychosis in which sufferers hold a delusional belief that they are infected by parasites.
The Morgellons, GM Link
According to the CDC statement, the etiology of Morgellons is unknown, and the medical community has insufficient information to determine whether persons who identify themselves as having the disease have a common cause for their symptoms. In April, 2006, the CDC recommended an epidemiologic investigation. It was not until January 16, 2008 that the care grant to Kaiser Permanente was announced.
In the meantime, a research team from Oklahoma State University lead by Dr. Randy Wymore, studied some of the fibers sent to them by Morgellons patients. They discovered that fibers from different people looked remarkably similar to each other and yet seemed to match no common environmental fibers.
Ahmed Kilani, a specialist in infectious disease detection, claimed to have broken down two fiber samples and extracted their DNA. He found that they belonged to a fungus.
In an even more provocative finding, Vitaly Citovsky, Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University in New York, discovered that the fibers contained the substance Agrobacterium, a genus of gram-negative bacteria capable of genetically transforming not only plants, but also other eukaryotic species, including human cells.
Anonymous samples were provided to Professor Citovsky by the Morgellons Research Foundation to use in investigating the potential presence of Agrobacterium in biopsies from Morgellons patients. Control reactions included samples provided by healthy donors. Only Morgellons, not healthy subjects, tested positive in these studies.
According to a statement issued by Professor Citovsky, this observation does not imply that Agrobacterium causes Morgellons or that Morgellons is indeed an infectious disease. However, it does encourage future studies to determine (1) statistical significance of data, (2) whether Agrobacterium is not only present extracellularly, but also causes genetic transformation of the infected tissues, and (3) whether infection of laboratory animals with Agrobacterium can recreate symptoms of Morgellons.
"Background information on the involvement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the investigation of Morgellons disease in the U.S.", published by the CDC.
"Skin Disease May Be Linked to GM Food", Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country, Oct. 12, 2007.
"Serious Study of Mystery Disease", Whitney Strieber's Unknown Country, Jan. 31, 2008.
"GMO Disease Epidemics: (10) Bt-cotton Fiber Disease", Myron Stagman, Ph.D., Portland independent media center
Morgellons Watch, "Clarification from Vitaly Citovsky"
Organic Consumers Association News Headlines
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