Tuesday, November 13, 2007
7 News Investigations: Body Bugs
You may find it hard to believe, but, right now, it's impossible to cure because no one knows what's causing it. They do know. However, the number of people getting hit with this mysterious disease is soaring. In a follow-up special assignment report, the Nightteam's Patrick Fraser is speaking to more people who are desperately seeking help.
WSVN -- New York City, they say if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. Kathy Jimenez is hoping if she can get help anywhere she can get it here.
Kathy Jimenez: "Excited as you can be after a year and a half of looking at bugs through my microscope."
Kathy's body produces bugs, bug parts scraped from her skin, dropping from her hair, living breathing bugs coming out of her body. But doctors in South Florida don't believe her and, in so many words, have told her she's crazy. I didn't believe her until she scraped her skin and put it under the microscope.
Now she is meeting with two prominent specialists in New York City who want to examine this woman with the mysterious disease and answer the question once and for all: are bugs really coming out of Kathy Jimenez's body?
Kathy Jimenez: "It'll document that people can have all types of bugs in their bodies."
Patrick Fraser: "When we first met Kathy she was desperate for medical help. A year later, she still is. That's what brought her here to New York. She also felt she was alone, she was the only one suffering from this disease. Unfortunately, as she has discovered, she's far from alone."
Tom Ruch and his brother Larry were both truck drivers hauling hazardous waste from a government site in Maryland. In May 2006, they noticed what appeared to be bug bites all over their bodies.
Tom Ruch: "I've never been scared of anything in my life. I'm not even afraid of a snake, but, when you can't see something that is eating away at you, then that's scary."
They tried everything to get rid of the bugs and failed. Larry says the worst part was doctors who should have been treating him were afraid of him.
Larry Ruch: "She didn't want to touch me. When I started showing her the red marks and the lesions that were starting on my body, then she treated me like I was a leper."
Larry says his red welts produce bugs. Other people have a similar disease boiling out of their skin. Eleven thousand people in the U.S. to be exact. They call their disease Morgellons.
Virginia Savely: "They actually have things coming out of their body, fibers of different colors, little black granules."
Virginia Savely treats Morgellons patients in California. Their bodies don't produce bugs, just long fibers.
Dr. Greg Smith: "The fatigue and the brain fog and the joint pain."
Greg Smith was a pediatrician near Atlanta until Morgellons hammered his body.
Dr. Greg Smith: "I have videos that I've made myself of fibers coming out of my own skin working themselves out and coming out of intact skin."
The thoughtful, well-spoken doctor has had to battle his own medical colleagues as he battles the disease that is destroying his body. Here leading a protest in front of the Centers for Disease Control with signs that read, 'It's Morgellons, it's real and it's spreading.' What the signs don't say? It can kill the people it infects.
Judith Knilans: "The doctors do not know, the people do not know. It is a horrendous situation in our country, and everybody is totally ignorant as to what is going on with this disease."
The CDC has now agreed to investigate whatever is infecting the thousands of people who have strange things coming out of their bodies, but, in the meantime, for the people slowly dying from this there is no cure.
Cindy Casey: "The treatment is very limited because we don't know what we're treating yet."
Which takes us back to New York, where Kathy came hoping if doctors can't find out what is causing her problems, they can help others.
Kathy Jimenez: "I have one in the back of my ..."
The dermatologist and entomologist examined her. They scraped her scalp, even a lesion on her arm. They looked under powerful microscopes, they found nothing.
Louis Sorkin: "From what we looked at today, we didn't see any insect parts or arthropod parts at all."
Sorkin explained the bugs on Kathy could have come from insects landing on her lesions. Kathy was devastated.
Kathy Jimenez: "Well, I did see it, and I could see things that were bug-like."
Patrick Fraser: "They said they weren't bugs."
Kathy Jimenez: "Well, you know what? They weren't whole pieces."
Making Kathy feel worse, a few hours earlier she found out a friend who has the mysterious disease gave up and committed suicide. Another person suffering from this mysterious disease dead.
Patrick Fraser: "You really think you are getting worse?"
Kathy Jimenez: "I'm going to. I'm not getting better."
Patrick Fraser: "Are you worried about dying?"
Kathy Jimenez: "No, I'm not afraid of dying because I'm going to go to heaven and I know it."
Patrick Fraser: "After failing to find out anything more about this mysterious disease, Kathy headed back to Miami. Maybe they missed the bugs, maybe she has Morgellons or a similar unknown disease, but now she fears, whatever it is, they may not find a cure in time for her."