The Morgellons Disease Conference, also called the Medical-Scientific Conference of Morgellons Disease, is an annual event that started seven years ago. The focus of the conference, which is put on by The Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation, is of course Morgellons disease, an ailment that is characterized by a number of cutaneous symptoms (i.e., symptoms that affect the skin). People who suffer from Morgellons report stinging, biting, and crawling sensations on their skin, and some say they feel as if (and believe that) there are worms (or something like worms) underneath their skin. The annual Morgellons Disease Conference presents the latest research concerning the ailment, and specifically aims to inform healthcare providers of new developments in the field.
Any discussion of Morgellons Disease must be handled delicately. While people no doubt experience a range of symptoms that can be grouped under the title Morgellons Disease, for the most part it is not an ailment recognized by the medical community in and of itself. Extensive studies by the Mayo Clinic and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as “Morgellons Disease,” at least insofar as people use the term to denote a disease caused by an infection or parasite. People who believe they are suffering from it are actually suffering from other skin ailments, and the belief that they are being “attacked” by worms, parasites, or fibers is mistaken. (It is unclear if Morgellons should be regarded as distinct from delusional parasitosis, the false belief that one is infested with parasites.) People with Morgellons disease may, for example, have a lesion on their skin caused by any number of things (e.g., a bug bite that has been scratched), and then normal fibers found on the lesion (such as cotton from clothing) are thought to be parasitical. To be sure, the people who are suffering from Morgellons Disease (however it is understood) are actually experiencing discomfort; what is at issue is the cause of the this discomfort, and the medical community overall says that the discomfort is caused by regular, understood skin conditions and a false interpretation of those conditions.
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The Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation is essentially an advocacy group that lobbies for a greater recognition of Morgellons Disease. Ultimately, the organization hopes this will lead to a greater understanding of the ailment so that its cause can be identified and a cure can be sought. The attitude of the foundation vis-a-vis the the scientific community is somewhat hard to discern. They aren’t altogether hostile toward medical professionals, but they certainly feel like their cause isn’t being taken seriously enough. They also pledge to “utilize creative confrontation to expose any person or group opposing or inhibiting education, awareness or recognition of Morgellons Disease,” although this is about as strident as their advocacy language becomes. The annual conference they hold of course fits into their agenda to bring wider awareness to Morgellons Disease.
The work of Morgellons Disease Foundation, while perhaps scientifically questionable, at least advocates on behalf of the downtrodden who feel they are being ignored, and the Morgellons Disease Conference is one of the more visible ways the organization tries to do this.
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