Delusional parasitosis, also known as Ekbom's syndrome, is a form of psychosis
whereas in reality no such parasites are present. Very often the imaginary parasites are
reported as being "bugs" or insects crawling on or under the skin; in these cases the expe-
rience of the sensation (known as formication) may provide the basis for this belief. De-
lusional parasitosis, with symptoms that have "extraordinary similarities" to Morgellons,
has been described in the medical literature for over 75 years.
The false belief of delusional parasitosis stands in contrast to actual cases of parasito-
People with delusional parasitosis are likely to ask for help not from psychiatrists but
delusional parasitosis is not at all well known to non-specialists, under those circums-
tances the condition often goes undiagnosed, or may be incorrectly diagnosed.
Delusional parasitosis is seen more commonly in women; the frequency is much high-
Presentation: Details of delusional parasitosis vary among sufferers, but is most common-
nied by an actual physical sensation (formication).
Self mutilation: Individuals suffering from this condition may develop elaborate ri-
in a form of self-mutilation; they injure themselves in attempts to be rid of the "para-
sites" by picking at the skin, causing lesions, and then pick at the lesions, preventing
them from healing.
Folie en famille: Some are able to induce the condition in others through sugges-
delusional parasitosis cases occur in groups of two, three, or more individuals in close
proximity, even families, known by the French terms ‘folie à deux’, ‘folie à trois’, and
‘folie en famille’.
The match box sign: Nearly any marking upon the skin, or small object or particle
festation, and sufferers commonly compulsively gather such "evidence", and then
known as "the matchbox sign" because the "evidence" is frequently presented in a small
container, such as a matchbox
thesia (unexplained tingling sensations in the skin), and pruritus, are common side-
effects of many prescription drugs or drug abuse. The sensations are real, but the attri-
bution of the sensations to unknown parasites along with the collection of fibers is part
of the delusion.
Delusory Cleptoparasitosis: A form of delusion of parasitosis where the sufferer believes
Treatment: It is also characteristic that sufferers will reject the diagnosis of delusional
able efficacy of treatment.
Treatment of secondary forms of delusional parasitosis are addressed by treating the
much as other delusional disorders and schizophrenia. In the past, pimozide was the drug
of choice when selecting from typical antipsychotics. Currently, atypical antipsychotics
such as olanzapine or risperidone, are used as first line treatment.
The term "Morgellons" was introduced by Leitao in 2004 to describe a skin condition
characterized by a range of cutaneous (skin) symptoms including crawling, biting, and
stinging sensations, finding fibers on or under the skin, and persistent skin lesions (e.g.,
rashes or sores). A majority of health professionals, including most dermatologists, re-
gard Morgellons as a manifestation of other known medical conditions, including delu-
sional parasitosis and believe any fibers found are from textiles, such as clothing. The
Morgellons Research Foundation, a non-profit advocacy organization, believes that it is a
new infectious disease that will be confirmed by future research. Other health profession-
als do not acknowledge Morgellons disease, or are reserving judgment until more is
known about the condition.
Mayo Clinic Study: A study conducted of 108 patients at the Mayo Clinic was published
skin infestation despite doing skin biopsies and examining specimens provided by the
patients. The study, which was conducted between 2001 and 2007, concluded that the
feeling of skin infestation was a delusion - delusional parasitosis.
CDC Investigation of Morgellons: Following a mailing campaign coordinated by the
tion Web site and sent thousands of form letters to members of Congress, a Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) task force first met in June 2006. The task force
consisted of 12 people, including two pathologists, a toxicologist, an ethicist, a mental
In June 2007, the CDC opened a website on "Unexplained Dermopathy (aka
stating that, "The primary goals of the investigation are to better describe the clinical and
epidemiologic features of this condition and to generate hypotheses about possible risk
factors." Kaiser Permanente in Northern California was chosen to assist with the investi-
gation, which began after the scientific protocols and a review board structure had been
prepared and approved. Investigators planned to report on the geographic distribution of
the illness, and estimate rates of illness in affected communities. The investigation in-
volved skin biopsies from affected patients, and characterization of foreign material such
as fibers or threads obtained from patients to determine their potential source.
In January 2008 it was reported that the CDC was enlisting the aid of the U.S. Armed
'immediate' and 'rigorous' research."
On January 25, 2012 the CDC released the results of the study - finding no infectious
of over 100 Morgellons patients; it yielded no evidence of an infection (bacterial, fungal,
or otherwise), or common environmental factor causing the problems. Laboratory analy-
sis of the threads found by participants revealed nothing unusual, but consisted of cotton
and other materials likely to be found in clothing. The researchers could not find any ex-
planation for sensations participants reported under their skin and suggested these could
be “delusional infestation,” wherein people falsely believe their bodies are being invaded
by small organisms. Various Morgellons groups responded to the results of the studies by
saying it confirmed their expectations that the government-run study is trying to cover up
larger issues. Jan Smith, owner and operator of "Morgellons Exposed", a site which hosts
her theories on the cause of Morgellons (including alien nano-technology implants), be-
lieved the problem was more than a medical condition and responded, “There’s some-
thing being hidden.”