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Morgellons Disease Explained

Morgellons Disease Explained

Singer Joni Mitchell was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday. While what caused her to be found unconscious is still unknown to the public, the New York Times points out that Mitchell has said in the past she has a disease known as Morgellons. But what is it?

Morgellons is a syndrome where people feel like something is right under their skin, or trying to come out of it. People who have the disorder will describe pulling “fibers” and other tiny objects like “specks, granules, dots, worms, sand, eggs, fuzz balls and larvae” through their skin. This can leave lesions and scars on their body.

Morgellons is not very well understood and is controversial within the medical community. It’s clear people who say they have Moregellons are suffering from something, but many doctors think it’s a psychological rather than physical condition. Research trying to determine what the disorder is has been very inconclusive.

“I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it’s from outer space, but my health’s the best it’s been in a while,” Mitchell told the Los Angles Times in 2010. “Fibers in a variety of colors protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable or mineral. Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer — a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year.”

Mitchell said at the time that she planned to get out of the music business and help raise awareness—and gain credibility—for the disease.

In 2012, the CDC published a study that tried to determine what is going on. It was part of a $600,000 project launched in 2008 in response to massive interest in the syndrome. The researchers studied skin biopsies and urine and blood samples to see if they could determine a common cause. They basically concluded that they didn’t buy it: “No common underlying medical condition or infectious source was identified, similar to more commonly recognized conditions such as delusional infestation.”

The condition is rare, with the CDC determining that about 4 out of every 100,000 people in the 3.2 million person population they studied had it. Only 115 people were identified in that study with symptoms similar to the disorder.

It’s obvious that people with Morgellons are experiencing something that’s truly taking a toll on their quality of life. Not having answers and lacking credibility is a large part of the problem, and something Mitchell hoped to combat.


Residents experience swimmers’ itch from Lake Champlain

Residents experience swimmers’ itch from Lake Champlain

Original Source:

A swim in Lake Champlain on a hot, late-summer day can cause many things: happiness, a sense of well-being, and for some people, an itchy rash. Over the last few weeks, at least a dozen swimmers in the Charlotte and Shelburne area, many at the Charlotte Beach, have experienced an unfortunate side-effect of enjoying the town’s lovely beach.

Swimmer’s itch, or cercarial dermatitis, is an allergic reaction to a parasite that thrives in certain conditions and can be found in lake water. Other than an ick factor, there is no danger or health concern from this parasite or rash. When the water is warm, a parasite can thrive in and attempt to burrow into people’s skin. Though the parasite cannot survive in humans, their burrowing can cause an allergic reaction, which manifests as a rash.

Neil Kamman, Program Manager at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Watershed Management Division, said, “Swimmer’s itch is actually the result of a naturally occurring parasitic organism that in its normal life cycle alternately inhabits snails, or the legs of swimming ducks. Thus, if you have snails (which are naturally occurring), and ducks (which are also naturally occurring), you may have the presence of swimmer’s itch.”

Kamman said that there is no office that regulates or tracks instances of this parasite, but that in extreme circumstances, control of one or the other of the host organisms could be warranted. He also said that in Lake Champlain, not much could be done to stop the parasite’s life cycle, but that perhaps not feeding the ducks and making the area less appealing to them might help.

The Charlotte Beach is a prime breeding ground for the parasite. Eric Howe, an environmental analyst and the Lake Champlain Basin Program Technical Coordinator, said people swimming in shallow, warm water that’s recently been visited by a large flock of ducks or geese, or is near a marshy area that also has a lot of snails, are most susceptible to intercepting the parasite as it passes through the snails and moves out into the water column.

Though there is no way to completely prevent the parasites from attempting to burrow into your skin, he recommends thoroughly toweling off immediately after getting out of the water, which removes the parasites from your skin. Both Howe and Kamman note that the parasite is not only common in Lake Champlain, but is found all over the world.

Though the rash is not contagious, and poses no long-term health issues, it is an itchy, uncomfortable condition. People afflicted can manage their symptoms with anti-itch cortisone cream, Benadryl, oatmeal baths, and other typical remedies for an uncomfortable rash. For more information about the parasites, or cercarial dermatitis, visit


Head lice myths and treatment

Head lice myths and treatment

Original Source:

Do you feel something crawling along your scalp? Are you sure? What’s that itchy sensation on your head?

Head lice is one of the ickiest things you’re likely to find on someone’s noggin, and one that many families will face as children head back to school. They will also likely face many myths about the blood-sucking parasites.

One that’s making the rounds is the theory put out by a couple of U.S. doctors that teenagers are spreading lice thanks to putting their heads together for selfies.

“I think they’ve forgotten their own teenage years. Teens like being together in close proximity doing other things than selfies,” said Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, adding lice don’t move that quickly.

He also threw cold water on the idea that lice would migrate from one’s head to a hat or toque, although if someone he knew had lice offered him a head cover, he’d “politely decline despite the scientific evidence.”

Head lice are a picky species, adapting to become a strictly human parasite that only settles for blood sucked from a scalp.

“They have evolved over millennia to be very specific human parasites. So they don’t infest dogs or cats or any other kind of animal — it’s only humans. And not only that, it’s only human heads. There are body lice and pubic lice, which are different subspecies,” said Bhardwaj.

There’s also not a sudden metamorphosis into some kind of super mutant being, despite some social media accounts.

That said, the parasites have been evolving thanks to the natural selection tied to our chemical warfare — we kill them off, so only those who survive the treatments reproduce.

What to do?

So if you do feel like something is skittering across your head (itching comes later if untreated), the best thing to do is look at treatments based on silicone that attack the exoskeleton of lice, or to go old fashioned and go through your hair, or your child’s hair, with a fine toothed comb.

“Do the physical labour of getting this out,” said Bhardwaj. “It’s really gross and it takes a lot of time and your kids have to be patient and you have to be patient and you have to do it more than once.”

And what about keeping your kid out of school for seven days if they have lice?

“Absolutely not, no,” said Bhardwaj, adding you should change their behaviour to reduce contact with classmates.