A FREAK illness which manifests as thousands of tiny bugs crawling over the body and fibres sprouting from the skin is on the rise in California.
Other 'horror movie' symptoms which a growing number of middle aged Californian women have complained about include oozing sores.
The freakish condition is known as Morgellons after the first medical record of it in 1674. At the time (the year New York was formally named) Morgellons was treated as evidence of witchcraft.
However, a $600,000 medical study, commissioned by Californian U.S. senator Dianne Feinstein, has this week concluded that Morgellons exists only in the patients' minds.
Mark Eberhard, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who was part of the 15-member study team, said: “We found no infectious cause.”
Sufferers of Morgellons describe a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, erupting sores, crawling sensations on their skin and mysterious red, blue or black fibers that sprout from their skin.
Many support websites are run by sufferers.
The CDC study focused on more than 3 million people who lived in 13 counties in Northern California, which is believed to be the world center for reports of Morgellons.
The team found 115 patients who had what sounded like Morgellons. They were overwhelmingly middle-aged white women.