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Nightmare under the microscope

by Laural Porter

Posted on May 10, 2007 at 6:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:39 PM

Mystery illness baffles doctors, sufferers

by Laural Porter

Kathleen (not her real name) pulled something from her finger on a tweezer and handed it to me.

I couldn't see anything.

"It's too small," she said and handed me a magnifying glass.

Kathleen put the hair on a glass slide and put it under the microscope.

"Here you go, Laural, take a look at this," said Kathleen.

I looked.

"Wow," I heard myself say... there is something there, and I think I saw it move.
Or was that just the air moving it?

I examined the mystery hair or fiber under the microscope.
One of my colleagues calls it my "Nancy Drew" moment.
Maybe I was going to solve the mystery of Morgellons.
What was the strange fiber?

I wish I knew. And so does Kathleen.
All she knows is that the fibers, along with the itching and oozing sores have tormented her life for four years.

I have to admit spending the afternoon with Kathleen made me itch.

Is Morgellons contagious? No one knows.

Psychiatrists suspect it's not. They say it's not a new illness, but an old one, a mental disorder, called Delusional Parasitosis. Dr. Annette Matthews told me she's seen the same symptoms in many patients who have been successfully treated
with anti-pscyhotic drugs.

"Some people call it dramataphobia. I've had patients call it bugaphobia. It is real to them," she said.

Kathleen has seen many doctors and she is frustrated that no one will believe her.
She insists she's not mentally ill.

"Just because it's scary, doesn't mean it's not real,"she told me.

So many people across the country have complained about similar symptoms, the CDC has formed a task force to study it.

What do I think Morgellons is?
I honestly don't know. I know it's causing extreme distress for those who say they have it.

I am also glad the CDC has listened to their complaints and is investigating.
I look forward to hearing what the task force has to say after it examines real patients and real fibers in the lab,as a CDC spokesman told me it will.

Maybe Nancy Drew can't solve this one, but I hope for all the Kathleens out there, that the CDC cracks the Morgellons Mystery.