Morgellons Disease Is Associated With Lyme Disease In North America, Says New Study

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Research Supported by the Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation Examines Epidemiology of Bizarre Skin Condition in Lyme Patients.

“It is time we acknowledge the evidence: Morgellons disease is not a delusional illness, but a dermatologic condition associated with Lyme disease" says Cindy Casey-Holman, director of the Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation (CEHMDF) of Austin, TX.

What does the epidemiology look like for a condition long thought to be delusional? That question is addressed in the article entitled "Clinical Evaluation of Morgellons Disease in a Cohort of North American Patients” written by nurse practitioner Melissa Fesler and internist Raphael Stricker from Union Square Medical Associates in San Francisco, CA, together with consultant microbiologist Marianne Middelveen from Atkins Veterinary Services in Calgary, Canada.

Morgellons disease is a bizarre dermatologic condition associated with tickborne disease. It is characterized by production of colorful filaments in skin, often accompanied by spontaneously appearing lesions, poor wound healing, fatigue, joint and muscle pain and neurological problems. Morgellons disease was previously thought to be a delusional disorder, and few studies have evaluated the epidemiology of this controversial illness. The new study published in Dermatology Reports analyzes the clinical data from a group of North American patients diagnosed with Morgellons disease.

“It is time we acknowledge the evidence: Morgellons disease is not a delusional illness, but a dermatologic condition associated with Lyme disease," says Cindy Casey-Holman, director of the Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation (CEHMDF) of Austin, TX. “This is the first study that looks at the epidemiology of Morgellons disease in North America,” she said.

The CEHMDF has funded a number of research studies demonstrating that Morgellons pathology is linked to infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, the corkscrew-shaped bacterial agent known to cause Lyme disease. The colorful filaments are composed of keratin and collagen proteins that for unknown reasons are overproduced by cells found in the skin of Morgellons patients.

“This study shows that Morgellons disease occurs in about 6% of patients with known Lyme disease, and that there may be around 20,000 new cases of Morgellons disease annually, with a total number of around 300,000 presently in North America,” says Fesler. “Based on these findings, Morgellons disease is slightly more common than hepatitis C virus infection and three times more common than ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease," she said.

The rate of Morgellons disease in North America is similar to the rate shown by a study in Australia, and a 3:1 female predominance was found in the North American cohort. “Women tend to have an exaggerated response to infection due to the biological role of protecting developing fetuses,” says Dr. Stricker. Lyme disease is known to disproportionately affect women by a 2:1 ratio, a theme observed in this study. “Genetic susceptibility needs to be evaluated in animal and human populations” adds Middelveen. “We need more funding for larger patient studies to confirm the association between tickborne disease and Morgellons disease in different parts of the world”.

About the Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation:
The Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation, based in Austin, TX, is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization committed to advocacy and philanthropy in the battle against Morgellons disease. Director, Cindy Casey-Holman, RN, leads the foundation named for her husband, Charles E. Holman, a pioneer in the fight against Morgellons disease. Currently there is no public funding and very limited private funding to support research for this disease, and the CEHMDF is the recognized authority and primary funding source for Morgellons disease medical/scientific research. Donations are tax deductible in the US. To learn more about Morgellons disease, go to: http://www.MorgellonsDisease.org

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