The skin condition that came to be called Morgellons was first noticed about 10 years ago. It consists of strange fibers poking out of the skin. At first it was dismissed as a form of psychological hysteria, but now it’s being taken seriously and may even be caused by genetically-modified foods. The Charles E Holman Foundation, which is studying the disease, says there are cases in "every continent except Antarctica." In the Guardian, Will Storr quotes Morgellon’s researcher and sufferer Greg Smith, whose body is covered in waxy scars caused, as saying, "You feel the sensation of something that’s trying to come out of your skin."

Is Morgellons Disease real? The US government thinks so, since the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has just given care giant Kaiser Permanente over $300,000 to test and interview 150 to 500 patients suffering from it.

There is still controversy over whether or not Morgellons is a psychiatric condition (which does NOT mean that it isn’t a “real” disease). The symptoms include skin sores, from which mysterious red, blue or black fibers emerge, accompanied by intense itching. Some physicians think these “fibers” are an indication that the disease is caused by parasites.

The study will be done in northern California, where many Morgellons patients live.

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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.