Morgellons disease has symptoms that rival the worst horror films: the skin of its victims oozes mysterious strands that have been identified as cellulose (which cannot be manufactured by the human body), and people have the sensation of things crawling beneath their skin. In the Tuesday, October 24 issue of the New York Times, Michael Mason reports that the Federal Centers for Disease Control will undertake an investigation of Morgellons Disease. The first know case of Morgellons occurred in 2001, when Mary Leitao created a web site describing the disease, which had infected her young son. She named it Morgellons after a 17th century medical study in France that described the same symptoms.

Other symptoms include sores are slow to heal and joint pain and fatigue. These last two symptoms are consistent with fibromyalgia, another mysterious malady, the reality of which is being disputed by physicians. Are these diseases psychosomatic?or real?

In another bizarre report about skin diseases in the same issue, Donald G. McNeil Jr. reports that in some third-world countries, people are finally being treated with AIDS drugs, only to discover the underlying condition of leprosy. According to McNeil, the problem arises when “the AIDS drugs cause the immune system to recover. It then generates new white blood cells that carry the [leprosy] bacteria to the skin of the face, hands and feet.” This isn’t the first time that two deadly diseases have demonstrated close connections.

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