New Study Inspects The Genital and Dermatological Manifestations of Lyme Disease and Morgellons

A new research paper titled Dermatological and Genital Manifestations of Lyme Disease Including Morgellons Disease was published today and it produces several points of interest.

  • Case study of a 49-year-old female with erosive genital lesions.
  • Molecular testing confirmed the presence of Borrelia bacteria.
  • Extra and Intracellular organisms were elicited.
  • Borrelia bacteria were cultured from vaginal and serum specimens.
  • Morgellons fibers observed in localized rashes.
  • Relapsing Fever antibody stains were reactive but could not determine species.
  • The patient experienced a relapse of symptoms upon cessation of antibiotic therapy.
  • Biofilm aggregates observed to have gram-positive cocci surrounding a Borrelial core.
  • The patients’ condition was determined as Class IV, Stage C Morgellons.

This paper brings to light several fascinating facts which should result in more careful scrutiny of potentially infectious patients. Primarily, the realities of poly-microbial colonization are readily apparent. The paradigm of “one-patient, one-disease” is demonstrably obsolete. If a patient is managing a variety of spirochetal organisms then the potential for treatment-resistant persistence is magnified.

Learn more about the Morgellons Disease condition by reviewing these scientific conference presentation replays included in the playlist below.

Morgellons Science, Response to the Opposition

Morgellons disease is a polarized topic in the medical community with two opposing points of view that are incompatible. The prevailing point of view is that MD is a psychiatric disorder with a delusional etiology. The minority emerging point of view is based on recent clinical, molecular and histopathological evidence that challenges the prevailing view and suggests an infectious etiology for Morgellons disease. When challenging a prevailing well-established point of view, new evidence will always be met with opposition, skepticism and sometimes outright hostility.

Evidence supporting the hypothesis that Morgellons disease is an infectious process is published in many reputable, PubMed-indexed medical journals, including but not limited to: the International Journal of General Medicine, Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, BMC Dermatology, F1000 Research, Healthcare (Basel), Dermatology Reports, and Psychosomatics. Stricker, Middelveen and Fessler are not alone in supporting this point of view. They do not work in isolation, but collaborate with other laboratories. The evidence supporting an infectious process includes experiments performed in at least 12 different institutions that include universities, commercial laboratories or clinical practices, located in 4 different countries and include a diverse group of independent individuals.

Resultant peer-reviewed papers, many of which are primary research, have repeatedly demonstrated an association between MD and spirochetal infection (predominantly Borrelia species) that is statistically significant. Evidence includes serological, histopathological and molecular evidence showing Borrelia exposure and/or infection in MD patients. Furthermore, Borrelia species have been cultured and genetically characterized from skin and other clinical specimens taken from Morgellons disease subjects, and culture is the ultimate proof of active infection. To date, Borrelia DNA has been detected in skin specimens taken from Morgellons subjects by at least seven independent laboratories and that fact is available by reading published papers available through a PubMed search. Collaborative studies that included Stricker, Middelveen and/or Fessler as author, in which Borrelia DNA was detected in specimens taken from Morgellons patients, were performed by four independent laboratories (University of New Haven, West Haven, CT; Australian Biologics, Sydney, NSW, Australia, IGeneX Reference Laboratories, Milpitas, CA, and UC -Irvine, Irvine, CA). As indicated in presentations made at Charles E Holman Foundation conferences, two additional laboratories, Mt Allison University in Sackville, NB, Canada, and Oklahoma State University, have also detected Borrelia DNA in MD skin cultures/and or skin specimens.

Showing causation is not straightforward. There is no perfect method for demonstrating disease causation. Various proposed methods for demonstrating causation are not checklists that must be met. However, the more criteria are met, the more likely a causal relationship is to exist. Correlation is the first step in showing causation. Currently there is more than a mere correlation shown between MD and Borrelia. Many of the criteria in Koch’s postulates, the Bradford Hill criteria for causation, and the criteria listed by Fredricks and Relman have been met. [1-3] The evidence that Borrelia infection is associated with MD has never been disproven by the opposition in peer-reviewed literature. If those holding the majority point of view feel that there is sufficient evidence to show an infectious etiology for Morgellons disease is wrong then they should challenge the evidence with published, peer-reviewed rebuttal.

In contrast, a 2018 review paper by Middelveen et al. published in a reputable PubMed-indexed medical journal [4] provides a detailed evaluation of the evidence supporting both points of view, and addresses significant flaws in the papers that support the point of view that MD is a purely delusional disorder. In contrast, the majority who hold the prevailing point of view have failed to identify specific flaws in the data or methods used by Stricker, Middelveen, Fessler, and their other collaborators, but instead have relied on personal attacks and their own preconceived point of view.

At the very least, the emerging body of evidence that concludes an infectious process causes Morgellons disease clearly demonstrates that society is dealing with an unexplored and poorly defined chronic bacterial infection that has affected individuals around the world and needs to be recognized so that steps can be taken to improve quality of life and to lessen if not alleviate the burden of this challenging illness. Attempts to shut down open debate and discussion in medicine stifle medical science. If not for open debate we would still believe in the miasma theory of disease, steadfastly believing that infectious diseases, such as cholera, syphilis, chlamydia, or even the Black Death are noxious forms of “bad air”. Medicine needs to evolve and challenging prevailing thought through open debate is an essential part of that process.

References

  1. Fedak KM, Bernal A, Capshaw ZA, Gross S. Applying the Bradford Hill criteria in the 21st century: how data integration has changed causal inference in molecular epidemiology. Emerg Themes Epidemiol. 2015;12:14. Published 2015 Sep 30. doi:10.1186/s12982-015-0037-4
  2. Fredericks DN, Relman DA. Sequence-based identification of microbial pathogens: a reconsideration of Koch’s postulates. Clinical Microbiology Reviews Jan 1996, 9 (1) 18-33; DOI: 10.1128/CMR.9.1.18 
  3. Middelveen MJ, Martinez RM, Fesler MC, Sapi E, Burke J, Shah JS, Nicolaus C, Stricker RB. Classification and Staging of Morgellons Disease: Lessons from Syphilis. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020 Feb 7;13:145-164. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S239840. PMID: 32104041; PMCID: PMC7012249.
  4. Middelveen MJ, Fesler MC, Stricker RB. History of Morgellons disease: from delusion to definition. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 Feb 9;11:71-90. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S152343. PMID: 29467580; PMCID: PMC5811176
  5. Middelveen MJ, Stricker RB. Morgellons disease: a filamentous borrelial dermatitis. Int J Gen Med. 2016 Oct 14;9:349-354. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S116608. PMID: 27789971; PMCID: PMC5072536.

Hallelujah, It’s Raining Science!

The Charles Holman Foundation continues its generosity by releasing both the 11th and 10th annual Morgellons conference media free on YouTube! Through these scientific presentations Morgellons is demystified, and it becomes clear that these patients need much better care.

11th Annual Morgellons Conference

  1. Diagnosing Morgellons Disease: Ginger Savely, DNP
  2. Diagnostic, Testing and Treatment Approaches: Carsten Nicolaus, MD, PhD
  3. Environmental Toxins & Morgellons Disease: Eboni Cornish, MD
  4. The Truth About Fake News: Ronald Wilson, MD
  5. Morgellons: Is it Delusional? Marianne Middelveen, MDSC
  6. Morgellons: Is it Infection? Marianne Middelveen, MDSC
  7. Multiple Bacterial Species Co-Localized Exclusively to Active Lesions: Randy S. Wymore, PhD
  8. Evidence of Bacterial Co-Infections in Morgellons & Lyme Patients: Julie Lewis, MDSC, PhD Candidate
  9. Suicide and Morgellons Diseases: Robert C. Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA
  10. Healing from Morgellons Disease: Courtney Day, ND
  11. Morgellons Fibers in an 8 year old Golden Retriever: T.J. Dunn, JR, DVM
  12. Patient Perspectives: Never Say Whoa in a Mudhole: Denise Moudree
  13. Q&A: Day 1
  14. Q&A: Day 2

10th Annual Morgellons Conference

  1. Canine Filamentous Dermatitis Associated with Borrelia Infection: Raphael Stricker, MD
  2. Multiple Bacterial Species Present in Active Morgellons Lesions: Randy S. Wymore, PhD
  3. A Critique of the CDC Morgellons Study: Marianne Middleveen, MDES
  4. How to Have a Better Experience at Your Doctor Visit: Steven R. Feldman, MD
  5. Morgellons Disease Testing and Diagnosis: Melissa C. Fesler, FNP-BC
  6. Morgellons Disease: Conventional. Alternative and Integrative Approaches: Carsten Nicolaus, MD, PhD
  7. Objective Findings in Morgellons Disease: Ginger R. Savely, DNP, Med, FNP-C, CAN
  8. Morgellons and Low Dose Antigen Treatment – Norihito Onishi, D.O.
  9. My Morgellons Experience – Amelia Withington, MD
  10. Applying Functional Medicine in the Treatment of Morgellons Disease – Eboni Cornish, MD
  11. The Neuropsychiatric Assessment when Suspecting Morgellons: Robert C. Bransfield, MD, DLFAPA
  12. Morgellons Disease: What’s Relevant, What Isn’t? Marianne Middleveen, MDES
  13. Q & A – Day 1
  14. Q & A – Day 2

The Charles Holman Foundation Releases 12th Annual Morgellons Conference Presentations For Free On YouTube

Have you ever wondered what happens at a “Morgellons Conference”? The Charles Holman Foundation knows you have and has you covered by releasing its’ 12th annual Morgellons conference presentations for free on YouTube!

  1. My Morgellons Journey and the Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation: Cindy Casey Holman
  2. Morgellons Disease: 16 Years on the Front Lines: Ginger R. Savely, DNP, MED, FNP-C, CAN
  3. Morgellons Disease: Testing, Conventional and Alternative/Integrative Treatment: Carsten Nicolaus
  4. Detection of tick-borne infection in Morgellons disease patients: Jyotsna Shah, PHD
  5. Morgellons Demystified: Marianne Middelveen by Melissa C. Fessler, FNP-BC
  6. Morgellons Disease: Reality, Unreality and the Next Steps / Randy S. Wymore, PhD
  7. Morgellons Disease: A Year in Review: Melissa C. Fesler, FNP-BC
  8. Unraveling Complex Clinical Cases: Courtney Day, ND
  9. CEHF 12th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference on Morgellons Disease Q&A

In The Battle Over Morgellons, Science Is Getting Slaughtered

It has been almost eight years since the CDC released the findings of its Morgellons study. Experts tend to agree that the inclusion of patients who “believe they have fibers in their skin” as opposed to limiting the research solely to patients who “have observable filaments embedded in their skin” corrupted the outcome of the CDC study. It can certainly be argued that the CDC did not study any Morgellons patients for their Morgellons study. Instead, they likely only studied people who believe they have Morgellons.

A concentrated effort to excuse scientific evidence isn’t limited to the CDC and their study. Individuals are making quite a name for themselves promoting fear-based propaganda to the public in the name of Morgellons. This is where dermatologists have it right, the majority of the people they see think Morgellons is something that science has demonstrated it is not and are convinced of misinformation they discovered on the internet.

Following the CDC study and several independent research initiatives, a contemporary review of the literature was published in 2018. The fact is evident that Morgellons fibers originate from the bodies’ own cells and are tightly associated with Borrelia infection.

Morgellons fibers are not alive and do not originate from chemtrails or nanotechnology.

There is a delusion that generates thousands of hits for aspiring YouTubers. Throw the word Morgellons on top of your video about aliens and government mind control and you can almost bank on triple the ad revenue.

Although this individual claims Morgellons fibers are dumped out of airplanes, they have yet to have their findings accepted for publication in any prestigious journals. To accept this information as factual requires “good faith”.

Cite scientific research which demonstrates Morgellons can be healed with antibiotics and expect a slow month on social media. Anticipate not seeing your efforts shared among many “Morgellons activists” who disagree with what the evidence demonstrates. Look forward to dozens of angry comments about how “you don’t know what you’re talking about” and “you’re the ONLY one saying Morgellons is caused by Lyme”. If you aren’t willing to make videos claiming Morgellons fibers are sentient beings being deployed for the purpose of evolving mankind to the next level of consciousness (or slavery) then you may start to feel like it’s time to hang up your YouTube hat. People aren’t interested in hearing the facts.

Misinformation Promotes Skepticism

The fight for legitimacy is winning battles from the top down, the science is good and experts are finally starting to take notice. From the bottom, however, patients in every city are floundering under a sea of garbage propaganda that their network of support would rather not become embroiled in.

“Morgellons? I don’t want to get involved with any conspiracy theories.” and “Morgellons? Man, you need to get out of the house more often. Get some sunshine and those sores will heal right up!” and “Morgellons… I’m going to send you to see Dr. P, she’s a very knowledgable psychiatrist who I believe can help you find peace from these Morgellons concerns.” are the result of copious material misleading the public about the actual nature of Morgellons disease.

Your family won’t believe you because when they go online to research it the first thing they’ll find is a video describing chemtrails and nano poisoning. The outcome of subscribing to these false narratives about Morgellons is isolation, except from those who espouse the same misinformation. The online groups perpetuate Morgellons misinformation like the last days of 90s rave, ad nauseam.

What’s It Going To Take?

What it’s going to take is to stand up to these agents of misinformation in public. Expose their fake argument with actual science that they cannot bring to the table and make sure everyone in the group sees you doing it. Make sure you point out that nothing they are claiming about Morgellons is validated with any accepted research. Sure, they’re going to whine and cry about it and probably kick you out of the group – but somebody watching the spectacle learned the truth. Someone watching saw actual peer-reviewed research about Morgellons that they didn’t know existed because they relied on agents of misinformation in the Facebook groups.

People need help from their system of support and that is not going to occur until Morgellons science is accepted. Today the science is avoided because of the forests of misinformation surrounding the topic. We need to grow vines and bushes and trees of science throughout that forest so that when people look they see there IS, in fact, a legitimate scientific side to Morgellons. Color their narrative with glow in the dark, peer-reviewed, hard to dispute facts. They may not be listening, but everybody is watching.

When people realize the evidence and understand how strong it actually is, then finding support will no longer be so difficult for Morgellons patients.

Positive Lyme Test Could Mean Syphilis

Several peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrate that a positive Lyme test could mean Syphilis instead of, or in addition to, Lyme.

False positive Lyme serology due to syphilis: report of 6 cases and review of the literature.

A 44-year-old man presented with visual field defects. Ophthalmoscopy revealed papilloedema of the left eye. Neuroborreliosis was suspected and serum was positively being tested using VIDAS* Lyme screen II (bioMerieux Vitek Inc). However, confirmatory testing using the Borrelia VlsE C6 titre was negative. Western Blotting on serum and cerebrospinal fluid could not confirm the possible diagnosis of neuroborreliosis. VDRL and TPPA testing was positive, and finally, the diagnosis of neurosyphilis was established. We subsequently screened our database on patients with positive VIDAS Lyme screening and negative confirmatory testing by Western blot, and found another 5 cases in which Lyme screening was false positive due to cross-reactivity with Treponema pallidum antibodies. Our data show that in patients with positive Lyme screening and negative confirmatory testing, performance of lues serology should be considered.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21485767

The Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Lyme/syphilis survey.

Serologic screening of patients for Lyme borreliosis began at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute (BPEI) in September 1987. This report reviews the data on 641 sera from that date up to January 1, 1990. Initially only immunofluorescent (IFA) IgG and IgM titers were obtained. Because of increasing numbers of borderline and positive IFA tests, a Lyme enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was added in April 1988. Also, because of significant serologic cross reactivity in patients exposed to Treponema pallidum, rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS) tests were added to the serologic screening panel. Of all sera tested, 10% showed reactive RPR tests and 22% showed reactive FTA-ABS tests. Lyme IFA IgG titers were greater than or equal to 1:64 in 17% of the sera, and Lyme ELISA tests were greater than 1.25 in 15% of the sera. Our experience agrees with reports that serum RPR or VDRL tests are nonreactive in Lyme borreliosis, and that false positive FTA-ABS tests can occur in Lyme borreliosis. The importance of getting all four tests–RPR, FTA-ABS, Lyme IFA IgG and IgM, and Lyme ELISA–in all patients suspected of spirochetal disease is emphasized.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2150843

Some research even demonstrates how those with a positive syphilis test actually have Lyme disease instead.

[Suspected syphilis during pregnancy due to cross reactions in Borrelia infection].

A weakly positive titre (1:20) in the Treponema pallidum haemagglutination test and a highly positive titre (1:1280) in the fluorescence Treponema antibody absorption test, but negative result for IgM antibodies, were found in the serum of a 23-year-old pregnant woman. The cardiolipin microflocculation test was at first borderline positive, but negative on repeat. In the absence of a history of syphilis tests for Borrelia antibodies were performed. Those for antibodies against B. burgdorferi were highly positive in the ELISA test (550 units), in the indirect Borrelia immunofluorescence test 1:1280 for IgG antibodies and 1:160 for IgM antibodies. In the Borrelia-specific indirect haemagglutination test, which measures both IgG and IgM antibodies, the titres were 1:640 to 1:1280. These results confirmed the presence of an infection with B. burgdorferi and not with Treponema pallidum.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3048959

It seems as if the tests for each of these infections are all over the map.

Cross-reactivity between Lyme and syphilis screening assays: Lyme disease does not cause false-positive syphilis screens.

Increased rates of Lyme disease and syphilis in the same geographic area prompted an assessment of screening test cross-reactivity. This study supports the previously described cross-reactivity of Lyme screening among syphilis-positive sera and reports evidence against the possibility of false-positive syphilis screening tests resulting from previous Borrelia burgdorferi infection.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707064

VDRL test

The screening test is most likely to be positive in the secondary and latent stages of syphilis. This test may give a false-negative result during early- and late-stage syphilis.

https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/tests/vdrl-test

Resolving the Common Clinical Dilemmas of Syphilis

Serologic tests can be negative if they are performed at the stage when lesions are present, and the VDRL test can be negative in patients with late syphilis. 

https://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0415/p2233.html

Apparently the problem isn’t limited to just syphilis and Lyme either.

Cross-reactivity in serological tests for Lyme disease and other spirochetal infections.

Serum specimens from 163 persons with Lyme disease, tick-borne or louse-borne relapsing fever, yaws, syphilis, leptospirosis, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever were analyzed to assess the specificity of indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) tests, an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and microscopic agglutination (MA) procedures. Strong cross-reactivity occurred when sera from individuals with Lyme disease, tick-borne relapsing fever, and louse-borne relapsing fever were tested against heterologous Borrelia antigens. Antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi bound to Treponema pallidum in immunofluorescence tests for syphilis. Sera from subjects with syphilis cross-reacted in IFA tests and the ELISA for Lyme disease. Immunoglobulin antibodies to Borrelia or Treponema spirochetes, however, did not react with serovars of Leptospira interrogans in MA or IFA tests, and the prevalence of false-positive results in the reciprocal analyses was negligible.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3298452

A Positive Lyme Test Could Mean Syphilis

If you think this is a lot to digest you’re not alone! So where do we go from here? It seems as if awareness and advocacy are good places to start. Do your friends know about these tests?