Morgellons disease likely a state of delusion, CDC says

The World

Morgellons disease — where patients report feeling that bugs are crawling all over their body and seeing colored fibers, granules, worms or even eggs poking through their skin — is likely a mental illness.

Researchers with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reportedly found that the condition wasn't infectious and probably isn't caused by anything in the environment.

Rather, Morgellons is likely to be a mental illness and should probably be treated with the same drug and psychiatric care that works for people who suffer delusions, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing the CDC.

The study was launched in 2008 at the request of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and focused on the Bay Area, where a cluster of Morgellons cases have been reported over the past several years.

Researchers, after running blood and urine tests on patients, analyzing skin biopsies and conducting psychological examinations, found that the patients' symptoms and histories are similar to those of patients with a psychiatric condition called delusional infestation — the delusional belief that one is infested with parasites, WebMD reported.

More broadly, the findings suggest that Morgellons disease may result from the downward mind/body spiral known as somatization or somatoform disorder. In these conditions, physical symptoms worsen underlying anxiety or mood disorders, which then worsens the physical symptoms.

Dr. Mark Eberhard, director of the CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria and a lead investigator in the study, reportedly said: "There were some possibilities of what could be causing this, and we've taken a couple of the big ones off the table. That's a really big step forward."

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