LOS ANGELES (CBS) — What if you felt the sensation of tiny bugs crawling on your body, oozing sores and fibers sprouting from your skin — and were told your condition doesn't exist?
KNX 1070's Brian Ping reports researchers now say that a mysterious skin disorder affecting thousands of Californians is only in their minds.
The condition known as Morgellons disease — named from a 1674 medical paper that described similar symptoms — affects an estimated 4 out of every 100,000 Californians, according to a sample study on more than 3 million people who lived in 13 counties in Northern California.
Sufferers of Morgellons describe symptoms including fatigue, erupting sores, crawling sensations on their skin, and mysterious red, blue or black fibers sprouting from their skin. Some say they've suffered for decades.
At one point, government health officials estimated receiving up to 20 calls a day from Morgellons sufferers.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Los Angeles) commissioned the $600,000 study in 2008, which was published in the journal PLos One on Jan. 25.
Most of the afflicted patients were middle-aged white women who displayed what doctors classified as a type of psychosis that makes them believe they have been infected with parasites.
The patients had no diseases, but more depression than the general public and were more obsessive about physical ailments, according to the study.
Last May, Mayo Clinic researchers published a study of 108 Morgellons patients and found none of them suffered from any unusual physical ailment.
The study also concluded that the sores on many of them were caused by their own scratching and picking at their skin.
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