Public entomologists struggle with an epidemic of delusional parasitosis


And the bad news: it’s about four inches long.

Good night. Sweet dreams.


I keep scratching now.
Thanks boingboing :frowning:


I’m quite sure that like with wifi-disease, windmill-disease and electrosmog-disease any uptick in cases wil most closely sync to increased publicity around the issue. So good on Cory for making it clear there are no actual bugs around but this is one of those cases where not saying anything could be the best approach :confused:


If anyone here is not completely freaked out by this, and likes a bit of science fiction that’s heavy on the horror, then I highly recommend Scott Sigler’s Infected trilogy. Be prepared to itch, scratch, and consider whether you have delusional parasitosis or worse. I certainly did. Actually, I’m not finished with the third book, but I can’t imagine it would include anything that would make me take back the recommendation.

This is also a reverse recommendation, anyone truly bothered by this story should definitely not read that trilogy.


Silence is death! Free the Morgellons!


Is it anything like this one?


Is that… a porn film or just low budget horror. I can’t tell.


Yeah, I’ve had an experience like Freck’s once. It was deeply unpleasant. And a lot milder. I just kept feeling like there were bugs on my legs. Weirdly localized, but sitting in a hot bath all night helped.


That’s a Misty Mundae (Erin Brown) Movie. She’s the greatest thing that ever happened to no-budget, strait-to-video horror in the US.

She has some directing credits as well.


Neat! Thanks. Looks like she’s done some softcore porn as well as low budget horror films, according to wikipedia. I’d suspect there is plenty of overlap between the two fields.


Also, shockingly pretty.


Somehow I am constantly getting involved in the deep weird stuff; I swear my life is a badly scripted soap opera.

I’ve never personally had delusional parasitosis, nor its close cousin delusional cleptoparasitosis. Unfortunately, an acquaintance is currently suffering from the latter, and he is rapidly cascading towards the self-harm stage.

We’re guessing his house had a flea or bedbug infestation during the final stages of his wife’s terrible and lingering death, and that provided the trigger. (Multiple exterminators have since taken care of whatever it was.) Because he is brilliant, financially well off, and skilled in use of weapons, forcible intervention is impossible. The police would certainly murder him (and he’d take down a couple squads of them, too) if they became involved, because like nearly every self-actualized human being, he’s dangerous. If not attacked, he’s only dangerous to himself, but that danger is rapidly increasing.

Long term abuse of methamphetamine, cocaine or similar drugs can cause this syndrome. So, unsurprisingly, if you have it, law enforcement will assume you are a criminal untermensch. It can also be caused by emotional trauma involving a loved one.

Yes. I believe there is heritable deep physical programming in normal human beings that is specifically there because it granted to survival advantages to our ancestors, and it’s integrated into our social consciousness, too. Once this system is overstimulated, it’s difficult to put it back to sleep.

Yes, absolutely correct. This is a contagious mental illness. People suffering from it can infect others. The acquaintance I mentioned earlier has infected people who worked closely with him and is currently working exclusively from home in order to prevent further spread. (Of course, from his own perspective, he’s not spreading an illness, instead he believes he is carrying insect eggs from his home into other people’s spaces.)

This is a critically important point. The physical sensations the sufferer is undergoing are real, not at all imaginary. It’s just that they aren’t being generated by bugs. So telling a victim their real physical sensations are not real, as many people will try to do, simply discredits you and makes it harder for you to help.


As a major fan of Scott Sigler here is a link to the original serialized audibook in podcast form Infected.


I wonder if there’s any correlation between delusional parasitosis and seeing lots of horror movies? The first Alien movie did it for me. Since 1980 it’s been all comedies.


I saw one of these people as a client, and it was fairly sad. She brought her beautiful cats in to be checked for parasites, demanding injectable meds for a mite problem that they didn’t have. When I told her that it would be unethical for me to treat them for something they weren’t symptomatic for, she was pissed. So… I gave her a little red blood collection tube to bring in some of the little beasties that she was supposedly seeing all over her garage (benefit of a doubt that there was something infesting the place, just not mites (most of which for cats are microscopic).

She brought in small grass seeds first.

Then a couple of scabs that she had picked off one of the cats (from fighting with each other).

Then nothing. Nothing in a container, which she swore was not empty, and how could I not see them crawling around in there. Nothing in vet school prepared me for this. And while I was considering what to tell her, she scratched a huge bloody scratch on her arm… (and I may add that at this point it made sense why she had so many little scratches on her arms and face).

She had apparently been doing this for a while, and confided that her human dermatologist “thought she was crazy”. I dodged that statement by just noting that the cats were some of the cleanest I had ever seen, and really had no detectable skin issues. I’d treat them if they were symptomatic, but couldn’t treat something when I didn’t know what it was and what med would work on it. Gave her a card for the vet. dermatologist (who probably hates me now), and that was the last I saw of her.

It’s a real and fairly freaky thing. I’m always reminded of Morgollon’s when I hear of delusional parasitosis.


Sorry for the non-snark, but this tells a veryhuman story, both of the folks who are expressing their pain in terms of imaginary bugs attacking them… and the government employees that become their accidental therapists, because of empathy.





I have to second this. I dealt with a huge bunch of fleas last summer, bad enough that I had to bomb the place.For months afterwards I was getting phantom fleas, just randomly feeling one jump off me or bite me even when they were all gone.


We had a bout of fleas about 10 years ago, and even the cats were jumpy for months after we were flea free. They didn’t want to be on the floor either, jumping from chair to ground to table. Everyone was glad when that ended.

Edit for typo.