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Fungi and Human Disease

A few fungi are parasitic and cause disease in humans. Others can release toxic compounds into the environment.

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Don't Worry Everthing's Fine
Teacher Contributed

Don't Worry Everything's Fine

Student Exploration

That's Not Supposed To Be There

Imagine you have an itch. You scratch it, but it still itches. You look at it and see a thread. When you go to pull the thread off, you find out the thread is coming out of you! Huh? You go to the doctor; the doctor sends you to a specialist, a dermatologist, and in a very diplomatic manner, the dermatologist implies you're nuts. A disease which cause threads to come out of you? Perhaps, you have been watching or reading too much science fiction because there is no disease like this.

At least, that is what doctors thought until more and more patients starting turning up with these strange symptoms, and eventually the conclusion they were all nuts just wasn't tenable, at least for some people. No, there really was something wrong with the people, something previously unrecognized. These people were suffering from a skin condition called Morgellon's Disease. Here you can hear firsthand what some of the sufferers of Morgellon's Disease have experienced.


For the most part, physicians and researchers have come to grips with Morgellon's Disease being a real condition, so sufferers are not treated like they are delusional. But recognizing a condition is a far cry from understanding or curing a condition. Researchers are finding this seems to be a very complex multifaceted condition. Some also feel that a slime mold (Dictyostelium discoideum) is a key player in the condition. Watch this to find out why researchers feel this slime mold is crucial to understanding Morgellon's Disease. Keep in mind that "correlation does not prove cause" and not all researchers agree with the interpretation of these findings, but progress is being made in understanding Morgellon's Disease


You may have noticed the suggestion that recombinant DNA technology has played a role in the spread of Morgellon's Disease. Such possibilities always need to be evaluated, but it is also important to note the first occurrence of Morgellon's Disease is reported from the 1600s, so it is doubtful recombinant DNA will tell the whole story. Indeed, with emerging studies and findings, it is always important to consider all angles as you search for a solution, and some people are looking to organisms other than slime molds to explain Morgellon's Disease.


You can go here to find out more about why Dr. Vitaly Citovsky feels there is an Agrobacterium connection

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What are some of the symptoms of Morgellon's Disease? Why are some of these symptoms easy to ignore?
  2. If treatment with antibiotics for bacterial infection and treatment with antivirals for viral infection don't work, where would you look next for a cause to Morgellon's Disease? What other possible disease vectors are there?
  3. What do researchers believe is the cause of the neurological symptoms of Morgellon's Disease?
  4. Has the cause of Morgellon's Disease been proven? Why or why not?
  5. How may the life cycle of a slime mold explain some of the symptoms of Morgellon's Disease? Be as thorough as you can in you answer. How could a sufferer's observations that symptoms became worse after a shower support the role of a slime mold in Morgellon's Disease?
  6. What evidence is there that genetically modified plants are involved in Morgellon's Disease? Do you find this evidence convincing? Why or why not?

Resources Cited

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