6 Unburned Pieces of The Mind
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20050527

Human Mildew

Although Maine is not particularly known as a wet state, we have had a series of storms during the last week that have dumped an enormous amount of rain, about 6-10 inches total. It seems that because of the constant moisture and lack of sunlight, we have a newly discovered epidemic to contend with. In an article by dermatologist William Gallagher, M.D. (Bangor Daily News, 27 May 2005, op-ed page), several patients with “wooly growth coming out of the ears, and similar wooly changes . . . found on the eyebrows” have been diagnosed with “Human Mildew,” which is said to be a disease that gives the patient a “werewolf like appearance.”

Dr. Gallagher describes “Human Mildew” as a “rare condition caused by an overgrowth of yeasts, fungi and mold.” It is a condition, he says, that is “precipitated by constant wet weather.” He further says that many patients experience “depressive symptoms, i.e. irritability and episodes of crying.” Because very little seems to be actually known of the disease, it cannot be easily determined whether these symptoms are due to constant damp conditions, or to “unexplained toxic effects of fungi on the brain.”

The only “effective therapy” in treating this disease, he says, is “removal of the patient to a warm, sunny and dry environment.” In one case, a patient was “cleared of the lesions after spending a few days in Las Vegas.” Hopefully we will get a break in our weather, and begin to warm up and dry out. Otherwise, as Dr. Gallagher says, “we will be seeing more folks in the mall looking like characters from a Stephen King novel.”