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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Reported Morgellons cases increase

By ERIN OCHOA / KVUE News

Some call it a mysterious skin disease, others a psychological disorder.

Morgellans is described as a parasite-like disease, that makes patients feel like they have bugs crawling under their skin.

KVUE News first told you about it a year ago. Since then, the number of reported cases has increased dramatically.

Lesions virtually cover Stephanie Bailey's arms and legs, and now, even her chest. She says they produce black -- and colored fibers, and itch uncontrollably.

"It feels like something's crawling on you, but then you look and there's nothing there," she said.

Nurse practitioner, Ginger Savely, studies the skin disease, called Morgellons.

The number of cases she's seen has jumped from just more than a dozen to about a hundred in the past year.

"When you start to hear dozens and dozens of people telling the exact same story and then you start to look and you really pay close attention and start to look at all the things they're talking about and you realize this is very real," Savely said.

Due to a lack of research, government health agencies don't recognize Morgellons as an actual disease. Patients are, instead, diagnosed with psychological disorders.

But over the past year, Savely has made some very unofficial observations which she hopes may help to explain and eventually treat the disease.

"A vast majority of them had some exposure to soil immediately before coming down with the symptoms, so they were either exposed to dirty water, they were gardening, they got a splinter stuck in them," she said.

She says she's noticed - patients with chronic illnesses that suppresses their immune systems, such as Lyme Disease, are more prone to Morgellons.

"It's causing tremendous suffering and something needs to be done about it," Savely said.

That's why the Morgellons Research Foundation was formed about five years ago. Savely says, since then, about 10,000 people have come forward with similar symptoms, but she fears there are still many more cases not yet reported.

"I think the more people that come forward, the more the public health departments are going to realize - hey, this really is a problem," she said.

Fore more information on Morgellons and how you can help research efforts, go to www.morgellons.org .

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