Dr Manny's Notes

Mysterious disease code cracked

A new study has concluded that a controversial medical condition known as Morgellons does not appear to be contagious or have any link to potentially toxic agents in the environment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cause—and even existence—of Morgellons has long been debated in the medical community and to this day, it is not considered a distinct medical disorder.  People with the condition report suffering from skin lesions, the emergence of fibers from the skin and bug-like sensations such as crawling, stinging or biting. Additionally, some patients report fatigue, memory loss and a substantial decline in quality of life.

I myself have been personally confronted by some patients over the last few years complaining of this strange ailment.  And deep down, I knew it was at least in part due to certain medical or health fixations that some people seem to have.

That’s why I’m glad we’re getting some final, definite conclusions on this condition.

Here are the findings reported by the CDC:

-Morgellons does not appear to be contagious, meaning it is not spread from person to person

-There does not appear to be an infectious—or germ-related cause—of Morgellons

-The fibers associated with Morgellons came from external sources, such as cotton

-About half of the patients had evidence of other medical conditions, mostly psychiatric illnesses

-About half of the patients were using drugs, such as amphetamines, opiates and cocaine

-Most of the skin lesions appeared to be caused by scratching

Now, I agree with most of the conclusions from the study – like Morgellons does not appear to be infectious in origin, or autoimmune, and it does not spread from person to person—but let us not dismiss the fact that we may be dealing with an emotional issue that also needs to be addressed.

The mind is a powerful thing, and in some cases, it can make us sick—not just mentally, but physically.  If a patient believes they have a certain affliction, that belief could cause stress, lack of sleep, anxiety and even depression.  It could also manifest itself as real, physical symptoms.

For instance, in January of this year, a group of girls in a New York high school were diagnosed with mass hysteria after all of them had begun suffering from mysterious shaking, tics and vocal outbursts similar to Tourette’s syndrome.  Officials reported there were no environmental or infectious causes of the illness.

So, while we might not be dealing with an illness of the body, we might be looking at a condition of the mind.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.