By Erin K. Costello
You can find a support group on Facebook for just about anything you can imagine, providing it isn’t illegal. You can even find these support groups for illnesses that aren’t recognized by the medical community or by the CDC. Support groups for Morgellons disease is just one of those illnesses. For those unaware of what Morgellons disease is, according to Health Line it is described as, "a rare disorder characterized by the presence of fibers underneath, embedded in and erupting from unbroken skin or slow-healing sores." Wikipedia describes it as, "a self diagnosed, unconfirmed skin conditions in which individuals have sores that they believe contain some kind of fibers." Is Morgellons disease real?
I am not writing this blog post to challenge nor confirm the existence of Morgellons disease. I am not someone who believes I am suffering from Morgellons, nor am I a medical expert qualified to challenge or confirm the existence of any illness. The overwhelming consensus in the medical community regarding Morgellons is that the disease is not real. The CDC does not recognize Morgellons as an actual illness described by those who claim to suffer its symptoms. It is largely believed by those in the medical community that those who believe they are suffering from Morgellons are in fact actually suffering from delusional parasitosis; a mistaken belief that parasites have infested the body. Since people suffering from a delusion are not likely to believe they are delusional, those who believe they have Morgellons are unlikely to accept this diagnosis. As a result, those who believe to have Morgellons disease are often left to their own devices. Those devices now include social media, specifically in this case, a Facebook group called Morgellons Support Science.
Morgellons Support Science is a closed Facebook group with just over 8,300 members. The group description states, "Chronic Disease Research pictures! A collection of photographs and information about chronic disease and the pathogens which cause these diseases." One of the treatments regularly suggested in this group is known as “fenben.” Fenben is short for fenbendazole, which is an animal deworming medication. This medication if often given to farm animals. It has been known to cause abortions in cattle and death in sheep. This medication is not recommended for use in humans. There was a study released in 2018 that suggests this medication could be repurposed as an anti-cancer agent for humans but that is all that has been suggested thus far. Trio is another animal deworming medication that is often suggested in this group as a Morgellons treatment. Trio is Ascatryl Trio Dog Wormer by Biocanina. In the precautions of use section concerning trio it states, "Do not administer Ascatryl Trio Dog Wormer Biocanina 4 tablets to pregnant bitches during the first four weeks of gestation."
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s look at the comments.
In the first screen shot pictured below, the pregnant member announces her pregnancy and asks if "fenben" is safe to take while pregnant. In the second screenshot she is assured that fenben is safe to take while pregnant. She is told this by another group member and by a group admin. In the third screen shot another member encourages her decision to continue with this treatment by stating that she wishes she had also been on a protocol while pregnant with her daughter. She then claims that Lyme was passed through the placenta and had caused her daughter's autism. Lyme is believed to be the cause of Morgellons according to this YouTube video.
I want to really draw your attention to the following screen shots. In the first screen shot featured, she is again assured that fenben is safe to take while pregnant.
The pregnant woman asks, "The trio is safe then too?"
One admin responds with, "I wouldn't take trio while pregnant."
The next admin responds with, "Fenben during pregnancy is safe. We don't reccomend trio if pregnant."
The last screen shot is most heartbreaking. The pregnant woman posts,
"Not convinced that fan been is safe during pregnancy. I had cramping the day after taking it and now just found out that I miscarried. I don't know if it was the fenben or the morgsor what but not something I would try again."
Another group member responds with, "Sorry for your loss. No one can say for sure what causes such things."
I can not say for sure what caused this woman's miscarriage. I am not qualified to give a medical opinion on such matters. That being said, I think most people would agree that it's quite possible this miscarriage was caused by taking an animal de-worming medication known to cause abortions in cattle. Regardless of cause though, what exactly qualified the admin of this group to assure a pregnant group member that fenbendazole was safe to take while pregnant?
According to one website, the Steve Beddingfield associated with this Facebook group Morgellons Support Science, is a microbiologist. According to LinkedIn Steve is a photographer who studied agriculture, agriculture operations, and related sciences at Fayette Institute of Technology, and studied microbiology at Blue Ridge Community College. Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year college. Considering that microbiologists are required to at least have a bachelor's degree in microbiology, and Steve studied microbiology at a two-year college, it's safe to say that Steve is not a microbiologist. However, even if he were a microbiologist, this still wouldn't qualify him to give medical advice to a stranger on Facebook.
Why is this group still allowed on Facebook and why is this Steve Beddingfield allowed to give such medical advice on Facebook's platform?
Though I doubt this is, I hope this is the first and last miscarriage to happen as a result of this group and as a result of Steve's medical advice. I also hope there haven't been any worse outcomes as a result of such advice.
What's The Harm?