Even though Lyme Disease first officially became a disease labeled as such in the 1970s, it actually came from a bacterium that existed long before that first outbreak in Connecticut in 1975.
There is a certain volume of literature out there – some very poorly researched, and some well-researched – that paints the picture of a disease that was the result of U.S. biological experimentation with foreign disease agents.
In this expose, I’m going to take a closer look at the story of Lyme Disease, to determine if it is at all possible to trace the origins back to the point in history where it all first started.
The goal, hopefully, is to collect enough clues to at least add additional weight to the entire theory, or completely debunk it once and for all. Please come with me on this exploration, and enjoy the ride.
The History of Lyme Disease
The tragedy of Lyme Disease is that when the current form of the bacteria initially hit Old Lyme, CT in 1975, it went completely misdiagnosed as an illness that shared many common symptoms with what is now known as Lyme disease.
It all started in November of 1975.
A mother living in Old Lyme, Connecticut recognized a strange pattern occurring in her town. An alarming number of children there were being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. In some cases, the illness also struck several members of the same family, including adults.
A team of researchers from Yale University School of Medicine jumped in – led by Dr. Allen Steere – and analyzed the strange outbreak that was occurring in this rural town on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Eventually, the disease was renamed to “Lyme Arthritis”, and then then finally, “Lyme Disease.”
It wasn’t until 1982 that researcher Willy Burgdorfer discovered the etiological agent for the disease as Borrelia burgdorferi – toxic bacteria that was discovered living inside the guts of Ixodes ticks.
This is where what is truly known about Lyme Disease ends, and where the unknown begins. This is where the truth becomes more fragile, and the evidence at hand must be examined much more carefully.
Where Did Borrelia Burgdorferi Come From?
The truth is that a form of “Lyme Disease” – or at least the bacterium that caused it – existed for many years before the new, more virulent species showed up on the shores of Connecticut.
Brown University published an accurate timeline of the appearance of the causative agent Borrelia Burgdorferi, as well as the troublesome vector for the illness – the Ixodes tick.
However, what the timeline shows is an interesting lack of cases or research regarding the illness between 1934 and 1970.
Up to 1934, the agent and the reports of symptoms only came from Europe. The symptoms of that disease were relatively less extensive when compared to today’s form of the illness – a skin disorder, joint problems, and some neurological and psychological problems.
In 2008, a team of researchers at the University of Bath confirmed that the bacterium originated in Europe, with a traceable origin before the Ice Age, but it did not originate in North America.
The researchers tried to explain away the re-emergence of the bacterium in North America as related to the “restoration of woodland” in the 1970s, as reported by a Science Daily article:
“The researchers suggest its re-emergence there in the 1970s occurred after the geographic territory of the tick that carries the bacteria expanded, for example through the restoration of woodland.”
This explanation falls flat for any number of reasons.
First, Americans have lived, played and worked in and around “woodland” for many decades, without any reports of such an illness in the U.S. The tick bites and symptoms that did occur, were “benign” according to a 1993 Yale paper describing the origins and history of Lyme Disease.
“Early descriptions of colonial forests, the abundance of deer, and ticks annoying explorers suggest that the conditions for B. burgdorferi transmission were present in the Northeast hundreds of years ago [20,21]. The generally benign nature of acute B. burgdorferi infection relative to the debilitating and fatal effects of diseases plaguing North Americans through the 19th century may have contributed to its obscurity until a cluster of cases of childhood arthritis first brought it to wider attention on this continent.”
In other words, while the bacteria and the vector tick existed for many years, the arrival of this far more virulent and dangerous form of B. burgdorferi in Old Lyme, CT in 1975 – and the fact that it severely affected a cluster of victims – indicates that something changed.
Sometime significant occurred to B. burgdorferi leading up to 1975 that caused this event to occur.
Where Else Could B. Burgdorferi and Ticks be Found?
The odd arrival of a European ailment on American shores in 1975 forces any honest observer to search in and around 1975 Old Lyme, CT for a potential source of more toxic B burgdorferi and the ticks that carry it.
Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to quickly identify the most significant facility located practically within swimming distance (at least for deer) of Old Lyme – the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
Plum Island is a federal research facility with the mission of studying animal diseases in order to develop a national defense against them. The research center was initiated in 1954, and one of its primary goals was to study the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease that threatened American Cattle if it ever reached the mainland of the United States.
An interesting Agricultural Research article, published in 1995, estimated that the cost of a FMD disaster in the U.S. could cost the country over $30 billion, and the government saw (and still sees) FMD as a significant national security threat.
Around the same time Plum Island began stockpiling FMD agents for study, congress banned the possession of the foot-and-mouth disease virus anywhere in the U.S. – including vaccines.
I Thought We Were Talking About Lyme Disease?
Who cares about Foot and Mouth disease in cattle?
Up to now, our research into tracing down the agent that caused Lyme Disease in 1975 in Old Lyme Connecticut led us to Plum Island, but only because it was conducting research on Animal Diseases.
That doesn’t mean you can take the leap into assuming that the infected, highly toxic ticks came from the facility. Not without solid evidence.
Well, there is in fact evidence that Plum Island conducted research that included using ticks in much of its disease studies.
The results of the research were only published later, in the 1980s, but those medical journal publications prove that research with diseased ticks was taking place on Plum Island around the 1970s.
–> Two Medical Journal publications, one in 1988 and one in 1989, describe the use of ticks in studies involving Heartwater disease.
–> Three Medical Journal publications, one in 1987, one in 1991 and one in 1992 all describe the use of ticks at Plum Island in research on African swine fever virus.
Even though the papers do not conclusively reveal the precise studies conducted in 1975, the fact that ticks were used in this research makes it clear that the practice was in use at Plum Island within that time period.
Accidents, Outbreaks and Escapes
The government and modern-day officials that handle Plum Island and related animal research facilities would like to offer the impression that the facilities have always had a stellar record on safety and security.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, many official documents reveal numerous cases where animals were accidentally inoculated with disease, and other cases where FMD left the building and caused outbreaks outside of the Plum Island facility.
A 2003 Report by Virus Research, published by four researchers throughout the Veterinary and Animal Disease community, analyzed the “Control and Eradication of Foot-And-Mouth Disease.”
Failures at the Plum Island facility were mentioned twice in the report.
Under “FMD laboratories and vaccine plants” on page 138:
“During the past 20 years on at least at two occasions FMDV escaped from technically well-equipped, high containment laboratories causing outbreaks outside the facilities.”
And on page 110, under “Dissemination of FMD virus by people”, the report makes it clear just how little the scientific community knew about how easy it could be to transmit the virus out of a laboratory setting.
“Consequently, people who work with infected animals or materials will carry FMD virus on their hair and skin and on clothes Therefore, on infected premises it is necessary to wear special clothing that must be changed and left behind and the visiting person should shower when leaving the infected premises.”
This advice was offered in 2003, and referred to an outbreak that occurred in the UK in 1968, due to lack of understanding by the scientific community and inappropriate precautions.
This reveals that researchers at Plum Island may very well have been playing with an animal disease that they lacked proper understanding about – and may very well have had insufficient controls to keep the disease properly contained.
Evidence of Problems at Plum Island
Evidence that this was in fact the case comes from a 2008 DHS report that details the history of accidents at various biological labs across the country. Section B-16 describes two incidents at Plum Island in the 1970s.
–> April 12, 1974: “Two steers that had never been inoculated with FMDV were found to be infected.”
–> September 15, 1978: “FMDV escaped from the biocontainment facility. The suspected cause was construction work in progress.
Further evidence that Plum Island researchers were in over their heads comes from a 2008 GAO report on the facility, which details lax security, a lack of appropriate safety precautions and inappropriate environmental practices.
Accidentally Creating Lyme Disease With Foot and Mouth Research
How could Lyme Disease have come from Plum Island? After all, the facility was researching Foot and Mouth disease.
The scary truth about both diseases is that so much remains unknown about them.
In fact, some of the truth regarding that connection comes from Plum Island researchers themselves.
One Plum Island researcher co-published a paper in the Journal of Virology in 1995 that described how both Foot and Mouth disease as well as Lyme disease involve “adhesion proteins which bind to a family of cell surface receptors called integrins.”
The researchers drew a correlation with Lyme disease on the first page of the paper:
“Binding of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, is mediated by the RGD-recognizing integrin.”
This correlates with connections drawn by other scientists throughout the 90s as well. In the Veterinary medical textbook titled “Large Animal Internal Medicine,” published in 1998, Food and Mouth Disease and Lyme Disease are tied together by the fact that they both represent “myocarditis” – with the cause only predicated by the species.
“(1) Myocarditis. The causes of myocarditis vary depending on the species. (i) Bacterial causes include ….Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete, also may be a cause of myocarditis in ruminants. (ii) Viral causes include the picornavirus that causes foot-and-mouth disease.”
Too Large of a Coincidence
The preponderance of evidence is too great, and too coincidental, to pass off as irrelevant.
You have a biological research facility conducting research – very likely using ticks as part of the research – on a highly virulent and poorly understood animal disease throughout the 1970s.
You have the arrival of a related illness to what the lab was researching – with scientific connections between the two diseases that scientists are only now coming to identify over three decades later – on the shoreline village closest to that Island research facility.
You have the fact that the facility was heavily involved in researching foreign animal diseases, and the fact that the origin of the more virulent strain of Borrelia burgdorferi only existed in Europe until the outbreak in 1975.
All of these facts make the government denials much crazier than any Lyme disease conspiracy that exists today. It is unfortunate that such an accident could have occurred – an accident that caused children to fall seriously ill and become injured for life.
If such an accidental release occurred, it is ethically irresponsible of the U.S. government to keep that accident hidden from the public. While the scope of liability is certainly tremendous – given how much the disease has spread and how many victims there are today – continued silence on the incident only further erodes the public trust in the government.
Because sooner or later, the truth will eventually come out. Maybe the guilty parties will be passed away by then, but their memory and their reputation will be forever tainted by the tragedy that they inflicted upon the country. Lack of remorse and failure to accept responsibility makes such a tragedy even worse.