Detection of tick-borne infection in Morgellons disease patients by serological and molecular techniques

Marianne J Middelveen, Iris Du Cruz, Melissa C Fesler, Raphael B Stricker, Jyotsna S Shah

1Atkins Veterinary Services, Calgary, AB, Canada; 2IGeneX Laboratories, Palo Alto, CA, USA; 3Union Square Medical Associates, San Francisco, CA, USA

Background: Morgellons disease (MD) is a skin condition associated with Lyme disease (LD) and tick-borne illness. Patients with this skin disorder experience ulcerative lesions that contain multicolored filamentous collagen and keratin inclusions. Infection with various species of Borrelia and other tick-borne pathogens has been detected in tissue and body fluid specimens from MD patients. We sought to explore this association further in a cohort of MD patients.
Patients and methods: Sera from 30 patients with MD were tested for antibody reactivity to antigens from the Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) group and the relapsing fever Borrelia (RFB) group of spirochetes. Tissue and/or body fluid specimens from these patients were also tested for the presence of Bb and RFB infection using PCR technology. In addition, tissue and body fluid specimens were tested for the presence of Bartonella henselae using PCR, and formalin-fixed skin sections from a subset of patients were tested using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with B. henselae-specific DNA probes.
Results: Seroreactivity to Bb, RFB or both was detected in 63% of the cohort, while positive PCR testing for Bb, RFB or both was detected in 53% of the cohort. Overall, 90% of patients tested positive for exposure and/or infection with Borrelia spirochetes. B. henselae infection was detected by PCR in skin sections or body fluids from 20% of the subjects, and B. henselae FISH testing was positive in 30% of the dermatological specimens submitted for study.
Conclusion: The study demonstrates an association between MD and positive tests for both Bb and RFB spirochetes. In conjunction with previous studies, our study provides corroborative evidence linking MD to Borrelia infection and tick-borne illness.

Keywords: Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, Morgellons disease, relapsing fever BorreliaBartonella, tick-borne disease

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3 Comments

  • Morgellons disease patient from Canada says:

    EMAIL #2
    To all Morgellons disease patients from Canada, and to CanLyme respectively:

    Is there any hope for Morgellons disease patients living in Canada?
    The ball is now in the court of the Federal Minister of Health of Canada.
    The fate of all Morgellons disease patients from Canada now rests in the hands of the Minister of Health.

    The Canadian health care authorities in Canada, such as the Minister of Health/Public Health Agency of Canada/CDC/AMMI/CIHI, appear to have had all the necessary peer-reviewed scientific evidence they require to validate Morgellons disease as a true physiological disease for at least a decade. They have the evidence to demonstrate that all Morgellons disease patients suffer from Disseminated Lyme Borreliosis, aka Chronic Lyme Disease. They have the evidence to demonstrate that Lyme disease and Morgellons disease can be a long term chronic bacterial infection resulting in disability and loss of employment/income/independence – and that Lyme disease bacteria can and does survive in the human body, despite antibiotic treatment as established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

    The time of expecting and waiting for these Canadian health care authorities to save Morgellons disease victims has now come to an end. I am embarrassed that I find myself in a position to have to post this information publicly as I am now, but I know of no other options available to me.

    I sent 2 emails to the Federal Minister of Health of Canada on June 4th 2019 – a desperate cry for help to end the severe discrimination against Morgellons disease patients in Canada.

    Any additional comments will be well appreciated.

    Email #2:

    Email subject line:
    “Public Health Emergency – Morgellons disease – Email #2”

    To the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor:

    Please permit me to be completely honest and open with my comments about the letter I recently sent to your attention about Morgellons disease on June 4, 2019.

    I humbly ask that you appreciate how it took all the courage and strength I had in me to produce such a letter on behalf of all Morgellons disease patients in Canada, and abroad.

    You may not know this but the majority of Morgellons disease patients live in terrible fear. In particular, because of the long-term systemic abuse:
    • We live in fear of the Canadian government in general and we are terrified by them for good cause
    • We live in fear of the Canadian health care agencies and we are terrified by them for good cause
    • We live in fear of the Canadian health professionals in general and we are terrified by them for good cause

    We have been betrayed, abandoned and disparaged to the extent that we now have a history of being treated as if we were worthless human beings who are so low that we deserve to be abused and tormented.

    According to multiple sources of current scientific studies and reports, approximately 6% of all Lyme disease patients present with Morgellons disease skin fibrosis (ie: keratin/collagen fibers growing in human skin). What we do know is that, since we were infected with Morgellons disease, we continue to suffer from moment-to-moment with creepy crawly sensations similar to the sensation of bugs crawling on top of and beneath our skin (among other symptoms of this disease). What we don’t know is why we got Morgellons disease from a tick bite and why others bitten by infected ticks did not.

    Despite many patients having attempted it, no one in Canada to this day has made a significant enough outcry on behalf of the Morgellons disease patient population in Canada to successfully end the discrimination we all face and be provided with due course of the administration of justice.

    While my first communication with you is entitled “Declaration of Public Health Emergency in Canada related to Morgellons disease”, I will confess that I myself have been so badly abused over the past decade of suffering with this disease that I have reached a state of a complete and utter lack of trust and confidence in your integrity and in the integrity of the office you represent. I do not mean to disparage you with that comment but the PTSD caused by this situation has had deep and profound effects on me. As a result, I have been conditioned by this tragedy to expect more of the same abusive treatment no matter how hard I try to seek the administration of justice. As such, until now I have been relegated to a state of cynicism and resignation, more or less.

    The letter I sent you today was my best attempt at the most significant outcry I could put forth while doing my best to maintain my dignity and be the respectful Canadian my parents raised.

    While it appears to be true that Morgellons disease patients with skin fibrosis in Canada have been betrayed, abandoned, abused, suffered human rights violations and suffered offences of the Canadian Criminal Code, all of us patients are stupefied and traumatized by the apparent deliberate agenda to harm us.

    The harm referred to includes but is not limited to:
    • Deliberately humiliating us
    • Deliberate refusal to test fiber samples produced by our body which are composed of keratin/collagen visible both by the naked eye and under a 40 x magnification handheld microscope or greater
    • Deliberately misdiagnosing us with a psychiatric disorder, often by a dermatologist without psychiatric licensing
    • Deliberately being prescribed strong black box warning antipsychotic pharmaceutical drugs such as Pimozide
    • Deliberately being ordered to ignore our symptoms and not complain or speak about the illness
    • Left to slowly deteriorate and die under conditions of atrocious inhumane abuse equivalent to a form of torture
    • And much more

    We all beg the question: How could we suffer such cruelty and abuse by the very health care institutions and government who are established to protect us?

    How is it possible that we are deliberately kept under the radar of all the prescribed checks and balances, and that not one individual within the entire Canadian health care system would ever question such deliberate atrocities?

    We are disabled and suffer from an underlying Lyme disease tick-borne infection, also known as Disseminated Lyme Borreliosis with cutaneous involvement.

    Of the Morgellons disease patients who have not committed suicide, most of us are disabled from employment and require urgent medical attention. We cannot afford to pay for our rent, utilities, communication products/services, transportation, food, private health care costs, etc. and so we depend on family, friends, the community and so on. Our individual lives have been destroyed and any attempt to redeem ourselves has been thwarted thus far.

    The only ones in our lives who believe what we tell them are the ones who actually examine our skin/fibers/lesions and examine the references to the abundance of peer-reviewed scientific studies which validate Morgellons disease as a true physiological disease associated to tick-borne infectious disease.

    Most Morgellons disease patients examine the letter from August 2009 from the Office of the Minister of Health of Canada and come to the conclusion that the Office of the Minister of Health of Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and the CDC, are all extremely dangerous and violent enemies bent on the ongoing reckless endangerment and torturous methodologies exhibited thus far against this vulnerable patient population.

    There are even those who have respectfully warned me that my life may be in danger as a result of these actions I am now in the process of taking by communicating some of this information with you.

    The impacts on myself and my life of continuing to live in fear of being further harmed by such institutions as yours, either directly or indirectly, have been further ruining my life. It has taken me 10 years of tremendous suffering to build up the courage to have my voice heard today by the greatest health care authority in our nation.

    I cannot predict how you will deal with this public health emergency related to Morgellons disease but I will inform you that I am backed by almost a half-million patients including a growing number of health care professionals and scientific researchers.

    For the record, I am patient #6 in this peer-reviewed scientific study, Exploring the association between Morgellons disease and Lyme disease: identification of Borrelia burgdorferi in Morgellons disease patients (https://bmcdermatol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12895-015-0023-0).

    I have PCR DNA proof positive testing for Disseminated Lyme Borreliosis, I have microbiology gold standard proof positive culture testing for Disseminated Lyme Borreliosis and I even have photographs of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto bacteria cultured from my Morgellons disease skin lesions. In accordance with this study and other clinically relevant evidence I am diagnosed with Lyme disease and Morgellons disease in accordance with Morgellons skin fibrosis.

    With all due respect, there is no other way around Morgellons disease anymore other than to examine the peer-reviewed scientific reports based on scientific studies of true Morgellons disease patients (https://thecehf.org/research/) such as myself, and to validate it as a true physiological disease. From there, it seems that there is no way around the exercising of due diligence related to health care protocols which in this case, would also appear to require a public inquiry, human rights investigation and a criminal investigation.

    Someone is responsible for the deplorable state of affairs we have today in Canada regarding this public health disaster related to the condition known to the Canadian public as Morgellons disease. While it is too late for the remaining Morgellons disease patients who are still alive, measures ought to be taken in order to prevent such a failure in the future.

    Every day that goes by from this point onward as Morgellons disease patients await your response to this outcry, and your immediate actions to remedy this public health emergency, will reflect your true commitment and dedication to the Queen, her people and this proud nation of Canada. I hope and I pray that you will take this matter very seriously as a first step in the process of re-establishing the integrity of the Office of the Minister of Health of Canada, and ending the unfair discrimination against the entire Morgellons disease patient population.

    I wanted you to know my thoughts, and to give you an understanding that I will be in contact with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in the near future so that you will be prepared in advance to announce your formal position to the public and to not be caught off-guard and unprepared. I sincerely declare that it is not in my interest to go out of my way to personally make you look bad or to make this public health emergency look any worse than it already does.

    Morgellons disease patient from Canada
    Name withheld
    Email sent: June 4 2019
    Email sent to: Federal Minister of Health of Canada

  • Stéphanie says:

    Comment communiquer avec la personne qui a rédigé cette lettre?
    Merci a cette personne

    Stéphanie
    Du Québec

    • Lance says:

      Bonjour Stéphanie du Québec!

      I am the one who sent this email to the Federal Minister of Health of Canada, the supposed Honourable Ginette Petitpas. She and her administration refused to reply to this letter. This refusal to reply to such an urgent letter is a true act of DISGRACE.

      The refusal to respond to this letter makes everyone in Canada question whether or not the Minister of Health of Canada, and her administration, are capable of fulfilling the mandate to protect the health of Canadians – you be the judge.

      Please send me an email:
      ltycholaz@hotmail.com

      I understand French well, I can speak in French, mais mon ecriture en Francais ce n’est pas parfait.

      I look forward to your email and I hope you get this message soon. Feel free to write me in French.

      Thank you for your interest in Morgellons disease, aka Filamentous Borrelial Dermatitis, aka Dermal Fibrosis caused by the Lyme disease bacteria.

      Morgellons disease is currently on record with the United Nations & World Health Organization as a result of the extraordinary efforts of Human Rights Expert, Jenna Luche-Thayer, and the international Ad Hoc Committee, as a sequelae of Lyme disease/Disseminated Lyme Borreliosis.

      Lance from British Columbia