To almost no fanfare, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced this bit of legislation:
The amendment was added to the House's National Defence Appropriations Act and passed by a voice vote.
Rep. Smith is a founding member of the Congressional Lyme disease Caucus. According to the Lyme Disease Association, the investigation was triggered by information released in Lyme disease survivor Kris Newby's new book, "Bitten: the Secret History of Lyme disease and Biological Weapons."
In case you are not aware of Lyme disease, here is a summary of the disease from the Centers for Disease Control:
"Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well."
Here is a map showing the occurrence of Lyme disease for the 2017 season:
During the 2017 season, there were a total of 29,513 cases of Lyme disease with most of those occurring in the northeastern states.
Here is a graphic showing the confirmed cases of Lyme disease by month going back to 2001:
Here is a graphic showing the confirmed and reported cases of Lyme disease by year going back to 1997:
As you can see from the data, the incidence of confirmed cases of Lyme disease have risen by 130.5 percent over the two decade period from 1997 to 2017.
One of the great unknowns of Lyme disease is its persistence in some individuals. Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome or PTLDS is described as follows:
"Lyme disease is caused by infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Although most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with a 2- to 4-week course of oral antibiotics, patients can sometimes have symptoms of pain, fatigue, or difficulty thinking that linger for more than 6 months after they finish treatment. This condition is called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).
Why some patients experience PTLDS is not known. Some experts believe that Borrelia burgdorferi can trigger an “auto-immune” response causing symptoms that last well after the infection itself is gone. Auto–immune responses are known to occur following other infections, including campylobacter (Guillain-Barré syndrome), chlamydia (Reiter’s syndrome), and strep throat (rheumatic heart disease). Other experts hypothesize that PTLDS results from a persistent but difficult to detect infection. Finally, some believe that the symptoms of PTLDS are due to other causes unrelated to the patient’s Borrelia burgdorferi infection.
Unfortunately, there is no proven treatment for PTLDS. Although short-term antibiotic treatment is a proven treatment for early Lyme disease, studiesexternal icon funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found that long-term outcomes are no better for patients who received additional prolonged antibiotic treatment than for patients who received placebo. Long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease has been associated with serious, sometimes deadly complications, as described in the links below.
Patients with PTLDS usually get better over time, but it can take up to many months to feel completely well. If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, see your healthcare provider to discuss additional options for managing your symptoms. If you are considering long-term antibiotic treatment for ongoing symptoms associated with a Lyme disease infection, please talk to your healthcare provider about the possible risks of such treatment."
With that background, let's go back to Representative Smith's amendment to the House National Defense Appropriations Act. In this amendment, Smith is attempting to confirm or deny reports that Pentagon researchers, at places such as Fort Detrick in Maryland and Plum Island in New York (in the middle of the worst affected part of the United States for Lyme disease) implanted diseases into insects to learn about the effects of biological weapons and also looked into using such insects to disseminate biological agents going all the way back to 1950.
In case you should happen to think that this is just another story from the tin foil hat wearing conspiracy crowd, the United States actually was found guilty of using this sort of weapon after the Korean War. I published this posting on the subject in June 2018 but will provide a brief summary. In March 1952, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) issued a report on U.S. Crimes in Korea as shown here:
In this report, the IADL investigated allegations that American forces in Korea were using bacteriological weapons against both the DPRK armed forces and the nation's civilian population. Between the 28th of January and the 12th of March (i.e. during the dead of winter), 1952, the Commission found the following insects which carried bacteria in many different locations:
The Commission noted that many of the insect species had not been found in Korea prior to the arrival of American forces and that many of them were found in mixed groups or clusters that would not normally be found together, for example, flies and spiders. It also noted that the January temperature was 1 degree Celsius (just above freezing) to 5 degrees Celsius in February but that the prevailing average temperature was far below the freezing level, temperatures that are extremely hostile to insect life. The insects were infected with the following bacteria which include plague, cholera and typhus:
1.) Eberthella typhus
2.) Bacillus paratyphi A and B
3.) Shigella dysenteriae
4.) Vibrio cholera
5.) Pasturella pestis
The IADL Commission unanimously found that the United States was guilty of crimes against humanity during the Korean War and that there was a pattern of behaviour which constitutes genocide and noted that:
"…the use of such inhuman weapons as bacteriological warfare must be taken to indicate a new degree of savagery in the conduct of so-called civilized states which must threaten every man, woman and child…"
In conclusion, I suspect the odds that any investigation into the link between Lyme disease and the military-industrial-intelligence complex will be, at best, inconclusive but, given this:
…I believe that we have a pretty good idea of who we should NOT trust when it comes to any link between the military/intelligence community and the growing prevalence of Lyme disease.
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