New disease or mental illness?

If you haven't heard of Morgellons disease, you may soon. Fueled by a popular website outlining its symptoms, thousands of patients are reporting that they have the as-yet undocumented illness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched an investigation of the phenomenon after patients flooded the agency with claims of having Morgellons. The CDC plans to conduct its investigation in California, which along with Texas and Florida has served as a focal point for alleged disease. The symptom list proposed for Morgellons includes slow-healing sores, a sense of things crawling under the skin, fatigue and joint pain.

To date, physicians have not been able to detect a unique cause for the symptoms, though many patients do test positive for Lyme disease. Some are suggesting that mental illness, not an infectious disease, is causing these symptoms, which also fit the pattern for a mental illness known as delusional parasitosis. They suggest that the outbreak is generated by Internet-fueled hysteria and picked up by emotionally susceptible patients.

Get more information on Morgellons
- read this New York Times article