Sunday, July 21, 2019

"Did the US Invent Lyme Disease in the 1960s? The House Aims to Find Out"

A twofer. First up, Defense One, July 18:

A decades-old conspiracy theory says Cold War bioweapons research is sickening tens of thousands of Americans a year.  
In the 1960s, on an 840-acre island at the entrance to Long Island Sound, scientists at the highly guarded Plum Island Animal Disease Center were at the forefront of U.S. biological-weapons research. Specifically, they sought to create pathogens that could be deployed stealthily, via insects. 
Skip ahead to 1975, when the nearby town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, became the epicenter of a strange, tick-borne illness. Children began to report unusual skin rashes, chronic fatigue, and swollen knees. In 1981, the condition was named Lyme disease. A conspiracy theory spread like a fever: that the researchers at Plum Island had engineered a new sickness, one that now afflicts more than 30,000 Americans per year.

An amendment in the House version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act instructs the government to investigate. 
The amendment’s author, Rep. Chris Smith, D-N.J., told Defense One, “I think it’s real.”...

And from Stanford University School of Medicine's SCOPE blog, Oct. 13, 2016:

The secret Swiss Agent: Puzzling comments reveal new twist to the Lyme disease saga
While I was conducting a 2013 biographical interview with Willy Burgdorfer, PhD, the discoverer of the Lyme disease bacterium, he reluctantly confessed that he’d left something important out of his Lyme discovery articles. There was another bacterial perp at the scene of the mysterious outbreak of juvenile arthritis in Lyme, Connecticut, circa 1979. He nicknamed this new tick-borne organism (from the rickettsia genus) the “Swiss Agent,” after he found that many of the original Lyme patient blood samples reacted strongly to tests that identified a type of rickettsia found in Switzerland. Yet he never published these results, and he died before he could fully explain why.

The mysterious disappearance of the Swiss Agent intrigued me, and it propelled me into a three-year search for answers. I dug through 15 document archives across the country looking for evidence and began analyzing the original Lyme patient blood tests, letters between researchers, journal articles and tick-testing results from Long Island and Connecticut in the 1970s. Over the summer, I began sharing information with Charles Piller, an investigative reporter at STAT News, and you can read his excellent analysis and reporting of the evidence here.

The importance of the Swiss Agent is that it could be contributing to the confusion in Lyme disease diagnosis and testing that has plagued physicians and patients for nearly four decades. Emerging evidence shows that the European strain of the Swiss Agent, called Rickettsia helvetica, after the mythical warrior goddess of Switzerland, has been linked to a number of serious symptoms, including sudden cardiac death, meningitis, muscle soreness, facial palsy and deafness. There are no readily available tests for R. helvetica in the United States. In fact, no one is even looking for it, because Burgdorfer’s discovery was never published.

Ticks are sewers of infection, and in addition to transmitting Lyme disease, aka Borrelia burgdorferi, a tick can simultaneously transmit other serious disease agents such as rickettsias, viruses and babesias.....MORE