The causes of a skin disease that has reportedly afflicted many Bay Area residents over the last decade may be more mind than matter, according to a new report by the Center for Disease Control.

The report, published Wednesday, revealed the findings of a two-year study of Northern California sufferers of morgellons, a little-understood affliction characterized by itchy, slow-healing lesions.

Sufferers of the mysterious disease say that the symptoms usually begin with a sensation of itchy, crawling skin, often compared to insects.

Skin rashes and sores follow, along with fibers, threads, cysts or other protrusions emerging from the affected areas.

Symptoms can also include severe fatigue, inability to concentrate, joint pain, vision changes and behavioral problems.

According to the Mayo Clinic, morgellons has been reported in every state in the United States, and in 15 countries worldwide, but most cases are clustered in California, Florida and Texas.

Sufferers even include singer Joni Mitchell and former Oakland A’s relief pitcher Billy Koch, according to media reports.

But after studying the disease, the Center for Disease Control is unconvinced the collection of symptoms is a unified physical ailment, and may be caused by psychological problems.

Dr. Raphael Stricker, a San Francisco physician who treats patients with morgellons, disagreed that the condition is psychological.

“The bottom line of the study is–we don’t know what (morgellons) is,” Stricker said, which has led some to assume that it is a delusional disease.

“It’s definitely not delusional,” Stricker said.

CDC researchers coordinated with Kaiser Permanente to identify patients who may be suffering from morgellons, and found patients who “self-reported emergence of fibers or materials from the skin accompanied by skin lesions and/or disturbing skin sensations.”

They found 115 patients who reported the symptoms between 2006 and 2008, all in 13 Northern California counties and mostly in the Bay Area.

After initial interviews, researchers gave the patients a wide variety of tests, including taking skin, blood and urine samples, taking samples of fibers protruding from the skin when available, and psychological testing.

But the broad range of reported symptoms could not be explained by a single infectious cause, according to the report. Lesions present on those suffering from the disease could be related to irritation from exposure to particular solvents, or even simply caused by rubbing irritated skin.

Furthermore, the fibers, hairs, and other protrusions often appeared to be from cotton, nylon or other fabrics that may have come from clothes sticking to lesions or scabs, based on samples taken from 12 patients in the study.

Researchers said the study represents the first population-based and most comprehensive exploration of the unexplained phenomenon of morgellons, but could draw few conclusions based on the information gathered.

The researchers did recommend that people suffering from morgellons seek treatment for the symptoms experienced as part of the disease, including fatigue, anxiety and depression, and any other physical or psychological afflictions they may be suffering.

Stricker said he and veterinary microbiologist Marianne Middelveen are studying similarities between morgellons and bovine digital dermatitis, or hairy heel warts, a veterinary disease that affects cattle.

According to a report they released in November, the similarities between the two diseases provides evidence that morgellons is an infectious illness.

“The people who say it’s delusional are going to look very, very stupid when the evidence comes out,” he said.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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  • tony zimmerman

    They are not stupid denying the disease, they call it plausible deniability.

  • Steven Davis

    Whatever you call it its criminal to code a patient delusional without examining his/her sores, for you can plainly see its parasites. Chemical parasites. The only reason you would not agree is if you are part of the sprayers.
    If you are, there’s a lot of suffering Americans that would love to kill the pilots and their bosses.

  • Dick Hurtz

    The Charles E. Holman Foundation has a “Medical Advisory Panel” that includes Ginger Savely. Savely just published this book on “Morgellons”…/…/0997920025
    She calls it a factual guide but it is nothing more than a misleading account that is steeped in Drama in order to play on peoples emotions and generate donations for the CEHF. Ginger Savely also is a member of ILADS .
    Raphael Stricker is also a member of ILADS and he continually has been involved with the “research” that the CEHF has done. When you look on the CEHF’s website you can find 9 different studies establishing a “Spirochetal Association” and they have been establishing this over the last 8 years. You will also find ther plenty of opportunities to donate. I reality a competent group of researchers and a good lab could have accomplished what they have accomplished in a month. DR. Stricker also sits on the board of which is a 501c3 like the CEHF and ILADS. Here is what an actual microbiologist had to say about Strickers work;…
    Randy Wymore from OSU has been involved with the CEHF and so has Eva Sapi from UNH . They have both received research money in return for created faux science around “Morgellons” and polluting our scientific database with misinformation.
    Nutramedix is a UNH benefactor and that is why Sapi wrote the Townsend letter on Samento and Banderol , she is also a personal friend of Cowden’s. After the Townsend Letter was released sales of those skyrocketed and they resulted in nobody being cured.
    Phyllis Mervine and Dorothy Leland are the masterminds behind and this is an entity that collects donations and floods the public forum with misinformation and holds events to give people like Dr Horrowitz oversized checks for his so called research . He shows up at the event and they put on a drama fest to generate donations. I’ve watched a lot of Dr. Horrowitz videos and he usually complains about the lack of research money.
    This is how they roll, they all know each other and they all scratch each others backs and they all share in the donations and continue to generate misleading results while people look up to them for hope. They all get tax write offs for being involved with 501c3’s.
    Now let’s look at ILADS itself, this great organization. You can find a button on their website where you can “Shop” or “Donate” just like and the CEHF. Savely and Stricker are both involved with ILADS. This is just a small sample of who knows each other in this money circle . Schaller, Breidshwerdt , and a lot more are all connected and these entities have only served to be parasites on the lyme community . Cindy Casey’s foot soldiers have done their best to marginalize me on social media not because I engage them in any rude way but because what I post threatens their existence. Her foot soldeirs are people like Sunny Gwen Simmons, Nancy Parks Egger and Jeremy Murphree.