Detection of tick-borne infection in Morgellons disease patients by serological and molecular techniques.
Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 ;11:561-569. Epub 2018 Nov 9. PMID: 30519067
Marianne J Middelveen
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 ofand 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(Bb) group and the relapsing fever(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 ofusing PCR, and formalin-fixed skin sections from a subset of patients were tested using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with-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 withspirochetes.infection was detected by PCR in skin sections or body fluids from 20% of the subjects, andFISH 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 toinfection and tick-borne illness.