Marianne J. Middelveen, MDes 2019
Title of Talk: Morgellons Demystified
Morgellons disease (MD) is a skin condition characterized by multicolored filaments that lie under, are embedded in, or project from skin. Crawling or stinging sensations may also occur and may result in the mistaken belief of insect or parasite infestation. Environmental detritus may accidentally adhere to skin and MD patients may mistakenly believe these artifacts are associated with their skin condition. Consequently, mainstream medical professionals largely consider MD to be a delusional disorder. Nevertheless, erroneous beliefs are understandable given the unusual constellation of symptoms that patients experience. Furthermore, the cutaneous filaments in skin are physically present and are true observations rather than delusions. Experimental investigations demonstrate the fibers are keratin and collagen. Multiple pathogens, most frequently borrelial spirochetes, have been detected in MD tissue, and cohort studies detect a high frequency of tickborne infections in MD patients. These findings suggest that the skin condition may be a physiological response to infection – particularly spirochetal infection. The symptoms associated with Morgellons disease will be explored as well as the evidence supporting a causal relationship between MD and infection.
Marianne Middelveen is a microbiologist from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, currently working in the field of Veterinary Microbiology. She received post-graduate degrees in Microbial and Biochemical Science and in Environmental Science from Georgia State University and University of Calgary, respectively. She has worked as a researcher in the fields of medical mycology and bacteriology at the Amazon Center for Research and Control of Tropical Diseases, and at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Central University, both in Venezuela; at Georgia State University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia; and at the University of Calgary. She became interested in Lyme disease after discovering she had the disease in 2011. As a volunteer, she has been involved in research related to Lyme disease and Morgellons disease. To date she has been a contributing author on more than a dozen peer-reviewed papers concerning Morgellons disease, many of which present ground-breaking research.