By Hank P. Albarelli Jr.*, Zoe Martell*
12 June 2010
Miami (United States)
Over the past ten years, more than 100,000 people in the United States and in Europe have complained about a strange and devastating skin disease known as Morgellons. The medical community is divided between those who dismiss it as a psychological disorder and those who regard Morgellons as an emerging disease deserving further study. This issue would normally be confined to scientific medical journals if the Pentagon and federal "law-enforcement" agencies were not so actively engaged in hiding it from the public. In the first part of his investigation, Hank Albarelli reports on a controversy which leads straight to new weapons experiments of the most secret order.
Three weeks ago, we wrote about a “disease” known as Morgellons about which very few people in the world know anything. We placed the word disease above in quotation marks only because a large number of physicians refuse to recognize Morgellons as a medical affliction, with some even refusing to treat patients who suffer from it.
We have listened to a long litany of accounts about doctors who have literally laughed in the faces of Morgellons sufferers, male and female, young and old, with many attempting to make referrals to psychologists. Remarkably, other physicians have mounted web sites mocking and attacking people who report they have Morgellons and those who write about it. Some physicians have dubbed the disease Delusions of Parasitosis, meaning it’s all in the patient’s head. Additionally, there is a website entitled morgellonswatch.com “dedicated to examining the claims made regarding what is termed ‘Morgellons Disease’” and to preventing “sick people into thinking they may have a terrible disease.” Oddly, there are no formal individual or institutional sponsoring names identified on this site.
Despite this seemingly general stance from the “medical community” there are clear exceptions. Nearly every state across the US, and country in Europe, has at least several medical professionals who regard Morgellons as “a serious emerging infectious disease deserving study and research.” Dr. Ahmed Kilani, Laboratory Director of Clongen Laboratories, Germantown, Maryland, says, “I have personally listened to detailed descriptions of the symptoms of this disease and something has got to be done.”
At present, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia is conducting a study of Morgellons in partnership with Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Division of Research. The study was formally announced and launched in January 2008. The stated objective of the study was “to learn about an unexplained skin condition known as Morgellons.” The study, said a CDC spokesperson, was expected to “Take up to 12 months or longer to complete.” Said the CDC’s Dr. Michele Pearson, the principle investigator on the study, “We earnestly want to learn more about this unexplained illness which impacts the lives of those who suffer from it. Those who suffer have questions, and we want to help them.”
Over two years past the CDC’s announcement it appears unknown as to when the study will be completed or be released. About a month ago there were unconfirmed reports that the study had been handed off entirely to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C., an identified partner in the study as explained by the CDC in 2008.
The initial symptoms of Morgellons involve patients experiencing the discomforting sensation of insects crawling on and biting or stinging their skin. This sensation results in skin lesions that can appear much like mild to severe cases of acne. The lesions can appear anywhere on a patient’s body and quite often contain fiber-like strands or fibrous material. The fibers are the most perplexing visible feature of Morgellons. Often when an attempt is made to remove or extract the fibers the material will resist and act to withdraw or move away from whatever instrument is being employed.
Skeptics have put forth various explanations for the presence of the fibers that plague sufferers of Morgellons disease. Some have suggested that the fibers are merely clothing fibers, and other common everyday material, that become attached to scabbed lesions accidentally; the sufferers, skeptics claim, are falsely convinced that the fibers are being produced by their bodies.
Other explanations are less kind; many ascribe to the idea that the lesions themselves are a product of “neurotic excoriation,” a psychological condition wherein the patient scratches the skin compulsively to the point of creating wounds, or even that they are created deliberately by the sufferer in an effort to convince others that he is suffering from a disease. The fibers, these skeptics explain, are then collected by the sufferer from non-bodily sources, as a means of providing “evidence” that the disease condition exists. The psychiatric community has long associated the collection of body specimens with delusional parasitosis and other psychiatric or fictitious conditions. In fact, the act of collecting these specimens is, itself, considered a psychiatric symptom, referred to as “the matchbox sign.” The name is a reference to the fact that fibers and other material are often presented in small containers such as matchboxes. As a result, the collected specimens are often disregarded completely by healthcare providers, and a psychiatric cause is assumed rather than a physical condition considered.
These arguments fall apart quickly, however, when the fibers — and the patients — are actually examined. Morgellons fibers, when examined closely, consistently appear as autoflourescent, meaning that they exhibit a glow under ultraviolet light. Certain marine organisms, such as particular types of jellyfish, also have autofluorescent properties. One fluorescent protein, known as “green flourescent protein,” has been studied extensively in recent years as a marker in the study of gene expression; it has been successfully introduced into many bacteria and fungi, as well as into fish, plant, insect, and even human cells. Fluorescent markers, in the form of genetic modifications or dyes, are also often used to track the presence of microbes in the environment. Oil consuming microbes, for example, are often marked with the use of a fluorescent stain for monitoring purposes.
A privately funded study conducted by Dr. Hildegarde Staninger, Industrial Toxicologist & Doctor of Integrative Medicine, revealed that the fibers are able to withstand temperatures of up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit [927º C] before burning, and that they do not melt. Her results indicated that the fiber’s outer casing appears to consist of high-density polyethylene fiber, an industrial material commonly used in the production of fiber optic cables. Interestingly, this material is also used in the emerging field of bionanotechnology as a compound to encapsulate a viral protein envelope. Furthermore, Staninger reported finding blue fibers that exhibited a golden tip; she believes these to be a form of nano-machinery, able to be programmed to perform specific functions.
If this sounds farfetched, consider the following information from a 2004 article in the U.S. News and World Report: Susan Lindquist, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, has managed to do just this using a type of protein called a prion. “She triggered a chain reaction in which the yeast prions spin themselves into long, durable fibers,” the article reports. “Lindquist then genetically engineered these fibrous prions so they could bind to gold and silver nanoparticles. As she reported last spring, the result was prion fibers clad in precious metal—ultrafine conductive wires that could someday shuttle electrons around nano-size circuits.”
Consider this information, as well, from the same article: “Last August , the U.S. Army announced a $50 million Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, bringing together biotech and engineering skills from leading universities and companies. And early last month, President Bush signed the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, which authorizes $3.7 billion over five years — a hefty chunk of which will go to bionanotechnology.”
Fort Detrick & Morgellons
Without doubt, the number of people suffering from Morgellons disease is increasing worldwide. Some estimates range as high as 100,000 people. At the same time that reported cases are rising, reports connecting the disease to various military research institutions and installations are also increasing, as are reported instances of strange developments with the disease. What is really going on with Morgellons across the world?
For the past several years there have been consistent and credible reports that the US Army’s biological warfare research facility at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland, has experimented with a lab-created disease very similar to Morgellons.
Said one former Detrick microbiologist, who refused to allow his name to be printed: “That I remember research on something similar — I don’t recall what it was specifically called — began not long after the Defense Appropriations for 1970… it began around then…there were all kinds of things under study then. It was hard to keep track of it all.” This remark about the 1970 Defense Appropriations is significant in light that at about this same time the US Defense Department made a startling budget request to the US Congress.
On July 1, 1969, a high-ranking Pentagon biological warfare official, Dr. Donald MacArthur, appeared before the Defense Department Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. MacArthur told the assembled elected officials that “dramatic progress being made in the field of molecular biology [by Army researchers at Fort Detrick and elsewhere] led [the Army] to investigate the relevance of this field of science to biological warfare.”
Said MacArthur, “A small group of experts considered this matter and provided the following observations:
(1) All biological agents up to the present time are representative of naturally occurring disease, and thus known by scientists throughout the world. They are easily available to qualified scientists for research, either for offensive or defensive purposes;
(2) within the next 5 to 10 years; it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism, which could differ, in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon when we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.”
Dr. MacArthur’s testimony went on, and he informed the subcommittee that a research program to explore the feasibility of developing such a disease, “a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could be acquired,” would take only about 5 years to complete, and would cost $10 million. Quite understandably, since MacArthur made his memorable remarks, speculation has been rampant about just exactly what disease he was talking about.
Some declassified Army reports from this same time are quite interesting in that many documents make it readily apparent that some of the Army’s most secret experiments with laboratory manipulated diseases were conducted in those same states where Morgellons is reported to be most prevalent: Texas, Florida, and California.
Dr. MacArthur informed Congress: “[Establishing new biological weapons] is a highly controversial issue, and there are many who believe such research should not be undertaken lest it lead to yet another method of massive killing of large populations. On the other hand, without sure scientific knowledge that such a weapon is possible, and an understanding of the ways it could be done, there is little that can be done to devise defensive measures. Should an enemy develop it, there is little doubt that this is an important area of potential military technological inferiority in which there is no adequate research program.”
Patients Warned Not to Talk
Since our last article was published here, a very disturbing number of verified incidents involving Morgellons victims have been reported. Many of these accounts concern infected people receiving warnings “not to speak” with the media or to “keep your mouth shut about this disease.” These warnings have come from people claiming to represent or to work for “intelligence” or “law enforcement” agencies. Several of the warned individuals had earlier reported seeing odd “fabric-like” and “web-like” materials falling from the sky prior to their coming down with the disease.
Caroline Carter, 50 years old, an alternative health therapist practicing in Cyprus, Greece, contracted Morgellons disease in August 2007, after discovering her garden in England “covered in a very strange web-like substance.” Looking further, she found the same substance covering other nearby gardens and hedgerows. Within about a day all of the foliage touched by the substance began wilting and dying.
Carter began collecting some of the web-like substance and felt a bite on her left upper arm. She recalled, “It was a sharp nip but there was not any visible mark.” Yet by the end of the day her arm was “really aggravating me as no matter what I did I could not stop a persistent itch that had begun shortly after the bite.” From that day forward the itch never left Carter.
In 2008, Caroline Carter moved to Cyprus. About a year later, she was diagnosed as having intestinal fungal overgrowth and a B12 deficiency. Carter’s rash also had worsened, despite concentrated efforts at treatment. The rash produced severe burning and itching, and continued to spread over her entire body. At the time, Carter did “not consider that Morgellons was the cause of my pain as many lesions appearing over my body were scabbing over.” While she knew about the disease everything she had seen informed her that Morgellons lesions “do not scab over or heal.”
After placing a piece of her skin under a microscope, however, Carter knew the problem was Morgellons. “I felt sick to my stomach…sure enough entangled through my skin sample were bright red, blue, and black fibers.” Continued Carter, “I took another skin sample and found the very same fibers, this time I placed the skin sample in a solution of H202 [hydrogen peroxide]. I left the sample to soak for 12 hours before placing it back under the [micro]scope. The fibers had not lost their color.”
Over the next few weeks, Carter’s rash intensified and she was in extreme pain. “My skin would form blisters that would burst then reform,” she said, “it felt like broken glass and lit cigarettes were attacking my skin from the inside.”
The ensuing weeks were sheer agony for Carter. She recounts, “The only medication that helped was opiates, both oral and intravenous.” Eventually, Carter says, “I decided to try frequency healing [alternative healing based on electromagnetic waves] and I really improved.” She says, “The change was immediate. On a Saturday I visited a therapist who discovered that my left and right brain hemisphere had switched, everything that should test positive ran negative and vice versa. I was also emitting radiation from my thymus area for approximately two meters. My thymus had felt permanently on fire and I could feel small metal particles under the skin.”
Not long after Carter was able to resume her normal work routine she assembled a thick packet of information on Morgellons disease, including a CD containing photos and videos of fibers, some in the process of actually moving about, that she passed on to a local elected official, who she thought might help her in her now intensive investigation of the disease. Since resuming her practice she had been alarmed to find that some of her clients, including children, were also experiencing health problems that appeared to be the results of Morgellons disease.
About a week later, a man who said he was from the Cyprus Intelligence Services contacted her. Carter says, “He told me that I should stay away from politicians as they would not do anything with my information, he said that there was something going on in Cyprus and that they were aware of it. He wanted my help. He told me a scientist has broken ranks and given information about a strange substance picked up in the EU air filter checking system.”
The man asked Carter “to stay quiet about my findings for now as it could cause problems.” Before he departed, the man told Carter that her telephone and e-mail was being closely monitored.
Carter explains, “I think the problem is due to my having found out just how many people have this problem as well as having grown one of these fibers. It has to be ‘artificial life’ from the way it grew. I say grew and not cultured because that is what it did. I placed a piece of my skin, which I had kept since my breakout on a slide with a small drop of H202 slightly diluted. Within 9 minutes a bacteria type of incubator sprouted long fibers. It was like watching something out of the film ‘Alien.’”
Caroline Carter’s story is not unique. Since our first article on Morgellons appeared, we have been contacted by nearly a dozen people, all Morgellons patients, who, over the past seven years, have received warnings from people who have identified themselves as either “federal agents,” state law enforcement, or “Army intelligence officers.” One woman in the mid-west says she was told, “If you know what’s good for you and your family you wouldn’t talk to anyone about this.” All the warned patients who contacted us are women who are fearful for their well-being and that of their loved ones. Most of these women are too frightened to want their names being used in this article.
Barb Metcalf, a Morgellons sufferer in Connecticut, who lives only 30 miles from the US Army’s top secret Plum Island research facility, felt differently. Metcalf’s story is incredible, and is presented here in her own words. Recounts Metcalf:
“It was December 8, 1998 a beautiful 72F winter day in Manchester, Connecticut. The weather was most unusual, we had had snow and several hard frosts, but this day was like a Spring day. I was outdoors at a party, standing under a large oak tree. I felt something inside my shirt; I never considered it to be a bug because nothing should have survived the winter weather. When I removed my shirt that night, it was very clear that I had been bitten at least 8 times on my back. There was a leg left behind in the struggle, so I placed it in a bag for identification. The next day, I had a major allergic attack with signs of oncoming breathing difficulties. I went to the doctor who did nothing more than a Lyme disease test, although there were no obvious signs that it was a tick.
“I took the leg to an entomologist at University of Connecticut who identified it as coming from an arthropod. By leg size, mouth size, he determined that it was not a tick, but could not otherwise determine the exact type of bug. Living in here is always reason enough to be checked for insect bites, living so close and in the migratory bird path of Old Lyme, Connecticut, just 12 miles from Plum Island, the world’s depository of infectious diseases of all types. Old Lyme is just 42 miles from my home, and about 30 miles ’as the crow flies’ or any other species of insect, birds, geese, etc. that take the migratory bird path that literally goes over Plum Island.
“Three months to the day, I felt as though I was being bitten all over again! I was screaming in horror and pain and could see nothing attacking me. After careful examination, my husband could see crystals sticking out of my back! He removed several of them with tweezers — they were all alike: triangular in shape, with one side serrated the other two rather straight, and all had either a black or red dot in the center. Once the crystal was removed the pain ceased immediately. Along with some of these crystals pieces of black material also was removed to find later that they were actually pieces of an insect’s leg. This cycle happened like clockwork every 3 months, leaving behind scars of white pox-like marks, red striated lines, red dots, and tender skin.
“Visits to specialists of Infectious Disease, was the least helpful. They would not look at the samples, nor listen to how I became ill. Then, other symptoms became apparent. Abdominal bloating and severe pain, upper right quadrant pain and swelling; difficulty swallowing, headaches, muscle pain, no apparent lesions or other marks on my body except for those lines and red dots. I was tested for Lyme disease, and both tests were negative.
“Having been married to a microbiologist for the EPA and having worked in the lab alongside my husband, studying what he studied, made me wonder just what had attacked me and why. I got out my old microscope and could see that there was more there than met the eye. Insect pieces, pieces that looked like crystal, and when dissected, appeared to be very interesting indeed. It was time I invested in another piece of equipment and found a child’s toy - Digital Blue; a digital microscope for about $100 solved the problem immediately. From that day forward, I documented everything that I found unusual coming from my body.
Cataloguing by date, location in the body where the specimen came from, i.e. oral, nasal, head, other body parts, stool...I have compiled a digital microscopy library of over 300,000 photographs in color and b & w, including videos of microbes and various bacterial specimens from my own body.
“Getting more ill as time went on, I literally begged my rheumatoid specialist to help me find out what this disease was. I was tested and the results were startling. From being a relatively healthy 54-year-old, active female business woman, to have positive test results for: fibromyalgia, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS, and Rheumatoid arthritis. All in just a few months’ time!
“When the bugs, worms, and large strange specimens began coming from my body, none of my doctors would have anything to do with me. They shunned me in total disbelief! I was mortified to say the least that someone they had trusted to be knowledgeable in the past 10 years had suddenly told them of worms, insects, and God-know-what coming from her body! I was told to see a psychiatrist, which shocked me to no end. I was not crazy, nor was I delusional - you can’t photograph a delusion.
“I searched the internet endless hours for photographs of specimens in all areas of medicine and veterinary medicine that looked like mine, to no avail. The disease got worse. I could no longer sleep, the pain increased to where I could no longer walk without a cane, and needed assistance from my family to do simple, everyday chores around the house and maintain my own body. “Being of a medically scientific mindset, I just knew there had to be an answer out there. But after several years of not finding anything similar, I began to be more than frustrated. I called on several scientific friends and associates for help and they, too, were stymied by the change in my appearance, I had lost more than 50 pounds within 3 months...and did not sleep more than a couple hours a day. Without sleep, the body cannot produce Serotonin, which it needs to repair and maintain a healthy system.
“Then in 2005, I needed water to be replaced in my swimming pool. I called for a delivery and asked where it was coming from - a local reservoir. When I first went into the pool, I noticed hundreds of small snails along the surface of the pool. I had never seen anything like this in the previous years. Then the large slugs began to be seen in the early morning hours...some as large as 4-5" long. Knowing better, I still picked up hundreds of these snails in my hands to dispose of them.
“In April 2006 I went to Florida to visit my son and his family only to begin feeling ill just 3 days into the visit. I left earlier than planned, and within one day of my return to Connecticut I became extremely ill. Vomiting, diarrhea (with obvious worm-like specimens which I saved for future observance), and then within 2 days had a fever of 104F. (Editor's note: 98.6F is normal.) I collapsed and was admitted into the ICU at a local hospital. All manner of specialists were called in, including infectious disease, cardiology, immunology, pulmonary, and dermatology. With a raging fever for 8 days, nothing was determined except that I was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia...of unknown origin. Upon discharge, the disease worsened, especially the abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. I brought samples of these worms to the specialists along with other unidentifiable specimens that looked like undeveloped insects, and they refused to even consider them, and threw them away. They would ask me, "Can you part with them?" I was treated as though I was some type of idiot, let loose on the street. I was incensed to say the least!
“I took literally hundreds of preserved samples to a university Microbiology Department in another state, where specialists - all Ph.D.s in various specialties: microbiology, parasitological, entomology, biology, marine biology, and virology. They selected an obvious egg specimen that they all agreed was a Schistosoma mansoni egg and tested it with stain. It did not respond in the normal manner. They did another ... same results. They were surprised to say the least. When the Department head asked why they thought this had happened to a person, the response was, "It’s genetically modified."
“’Genetically modified’ appears to be an understatement at this point in time. This was not the first time that my interests were being challenged. In September, 2008 I woke to check my pool to find thousands of beige/khaki colored threads all over my deck and the roof of my home. I couldn’t imagine where they had come from. I picked them up in my hands and put them in a bag for disposal, then vacuumed the area still wondering where they had come from. Curious, I put one under the microscope only to be shocked again. These fibers were not normal threads at all, but were twists and braided forms of fibers with many types of organisms literally woven into the pattern. What shocked me most was that some of these specimens I saw were the very same specimens I had seen come out of my own body. I double-checked my photographs to be certain I was not in error. I wasn’t. The next day, the same thing happened again. I checked the neighborhood by walking the street to see if there were more threads, but did not find any.
“A year later in September, 2009, the threads appeared again. Same type of thread, same type of organisms entwined within the fibers. By coincidence, just a few days later, I was lying on a raft in my pool, looking up into the sky, and saw something floating down from the sky where there were no trees. I jumped out of the pool and caught it before it hit the ground! It was one of those same threads! No doubt about it. I ran into the house and put it under the scope - and sure enough even though it was a year later, this lone thread blew into my yard, just like those before it, with what looked like the colored threads of red, black, blue, and white of what I came to know as Morgellons Disease or the Fiber Disease!
“So, where had they come from? To this day, I have no idea, but they didn’t just fly in on their own.
“From about that same time, I was studying what I found to be called Morgellons Disease from an ABC [TV] Special that showed these same fiber masses that I had photographed! A friend called me and asked me why I had given my material and photographs to ABC. I told her I hadn’t; she said they are on TV right now! And, yes, those there looked like my very own photos. I was overwhelmed to say the least. A whole new world of investigation opened for me.
“I’ve contacted medical facilities all over the country looking for help, to no avail, until I found an infectious disease facility in Boston Massachusetts who finally took me on as a patient, after checking me for DOP [Delusions of Parasitosis], and I submitted samples from my body sometimes within 30 minutes! They had never seen anything like it. I brought and sent in many digital photographs of the specimens from my body, and none could be identified - even in this area of the country known for its excellence in medicine and new technology. I asked about Morgellons...they had not heard of it. However, I could match what came out of my body with photographs published by others. I was finally given medicine to help remove these parasites from my body, along with extensive testing of my brain, abdomen, chest, lungs, etc. and blood. No conclusive findings or diagnosis was found and no etiology of what was in my body. They agreed to advise me if anyone else came to their facility with my same symptoms in the future. I must have faith in what they try to do...until I learn more.
“It is now 2 months since I took the medicine that was prescribed, and I am still producing fungus gnats, flies, from my nasal cavities, eggs and worms and various other strange specimens in my stool. My abdomen is again bloating and in pain, and the vicious circle of this debilitating disease goes on.
“Many strange incidents have happened since I contracted Morgellons Disease; my computer has been broken/hacked into and only certain information, including my book that I had been writing for more than 10 years, was removed. While discussing Morgellons with another Morgy, we were both viewing the same site, when both our computers went black! We were also on the phone at the time. He lives in another state and does not have the same ISP; his computer came back on; mine did not. I took my computer to experts to verify what had happened.
“I have no doubt that this disease has killed more people than we are aware of; we are getting no support from anyone; we are researching daily; many victims have lost their jobs, their homes, their families, support from their friends and families, and most of all from the lack of care from the medical community at large. They are all waiting for what the CDC finds in their Kaiser Permanente Investigation that has been a long time coming. Meanwhile, people have been dying from this disease or complications of this disease, or have committed suicide because they no longer are able to fight the daily horrors and pain this horrific disease does to mind and body.”