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House orders Pentagon to review if it exposed Americans to weaponised ticks -The Guardian

Discussion in 'Infections: Lyme, Candida, EBV ...' started by hinterland, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. hinterland

    hinterland Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/16/pentagon-review-weaponised-ticks-lyme-disease

     
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  2. duncan

    duncan Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    A tip of my hat to Kris Newby, author of Bitten, whose research in part led to this. Also, a big thanks to the efforts of US Representative Chris Smith.

    I doubt that anything substantive will come of it, but the attention hopefully will prove good in the long run. The tinfoil-hat-conspiracy-push-back will come, but eh, nothing new on that front. Pushing the goal posts remains paramount, and I think this contributes to that cause.
     
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  3. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The question does not appear to cover any work conducted under "sub-contract" by the USDA at Plum Island or NIH at Rocky Mountain Laboratories.
     
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  4. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    My usual peregrinations through internet available obscurities turned up something surprising and, perhaps relevant. P153 of this US Army report (the book page, not the PDF page)
    https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB58/RNCBW_USABWP.pdf
    indicates that a combined agent vaccine was developed against Q Fever and RM Spotted Fever. Had this been the work of the NIH it might be regarded as a benign piece of work. As it seems to have been done under contract to the Army Chemical Corps, the rebuttable presumption must be that this was developed as protection against an existing or intended combination bio-weapon. The date of the work is not given to greater accuracy than between 1943 and 1969.

    "Bitten" does reveal an interesting set of coincidences, which only started to become apparent on third reading. WB's "sponsor" at RML was Gordon E Davis. Along with Cox, who had since decamped to New York, he was the discoverer of Coxiella burnettii, the causative agent of Q Fever. Davis must be regarded as probably the leading expert on Q Fever. It is not clear when that was selected as a potential bio weapon, but it must have been early, probably by 1950. WB arrived at RML on Dec 23, 1951. By January, 1953 he seems to be involved with the weapons programme.

    It is interesting that the disease that the Swiss goatherds were suspected of having in 1978, which sent WB off to Neuchatel to collect ticks, was Q Fever. The samples of the as yet unnamed, but putative Lyme Disease, reacted to this "Swiss Agent" which he collected there.

    It would be interesting to know whether any further reference to the work on the combined vaccine has been noted.

    As Q Fever has been said to be a potential cause of a type of ME it does seem justifiable to discuss these matters on a ME forum,

    EDIT I seem to have put this on the wrong thread. It was meant to go on the Bitten thread, but it is reasonably at home here.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  5. duncan

    duncan Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Wasn't the Swiss Agent rickettsial, or is my memory off?
     
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  6. duncan

    duncan Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Just to explain about the "Swiss Agent" for anybody who is interested in what it is, and why it may be important.

    Willy Burgdorfer discovered the spirochete that is supposed to cause what we call Lyme. He didn't just discover it on a whim. He was asked to examine a specific cache of ticks culled from Long Island in New York State. Those ticks were shipped to him cross-country to Rocky Mountain Labs in Montana.

    The man who led the team that supplied those ticks to Burdorfer was Jorge Benach. Benach sent Burdorfer about 150 or so ticks from Long Island. Upon examination by WB, it was found that a majority of those ticks had within them a novel spirochete that was later named for Burgdorfer.

    Reportedly, an even greater majority of those same ticks had another interloper, and it was purported to be a rickettsia that evidently reminded WB of an unusual strain of rickettsia seen in Switzerland. This he dubbed the Swiss Agent. It was the Swiss Agent that Burgdorfer thought caused what we call Lyme - at least at first. Over a period, he consulted with people like Allen Steere and I'm sure people at Ft Detrick etc. Eventually he changed his mind. Borrelia Burdorferi got the dubious honor of being labeled the cause of Lyme Disease.

    But the novel rickettsia disappeared from all public discourse. From 1982 until around 2015, it appears that no one even knew the Swiss Agent existed, except for the handful of govt individuals who had debated its role 30 years prior.

    This is relevant to this thread because evidently there is some conjecture that, during the Cold War, up until around 1969, US agencies may have tinkered with weaponizing ticks, eg, injecting them with microbes that weren't necessarily normal in a given tick species, adopting ticks to accommodate multiple pathogens, maybe even genetically modifying pathogens.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  7. Andy

    Andy Committee Member & Outreach

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    www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/07/17/gop-lawmaker-thinks-rise-lyme-disease-is-due-secret-tick-experiment-scientist-squashes-that-idea/
     
  8. duncan

    duncan Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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  9. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    There are some very strange omissions from the Army 1977 Report on its biological warfare program linked in a post above. It purports to provide details of all contracts issued, research and tests in various locations.

    As stated page 153 lists "agent vaccines developed" in the period 1943 to 1969 and gives at no. 17 Q fever and rocky mountain spotted fever (combined). On page 195 and onwards various tests are described including tests on Q fever vaccine from 1965. There are various projects listed as classified, but there is no mention of testing a RM spotted fever vaccine until 1976, and no mention of a combined vaccine. Given the nature of some of the tests disclosed it is hard to understand the classified nature of some programs.

    Clearly something is missing. Unless the combined vaccine was produced without testing the report cannot be considered complete. There could be innocent explanations, but it is unfortunate, in view of the disclosures made, that this is omitted. The problem with creating a chimera is the unknown unknowns.
     
  10. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    One hopes that Professor Osterholm declared an interest on behalf of his university as p92 of the report reveals a total of 18 contracts between 1950 and 1970.
     
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  11. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    It would appear that Prof Osterholme qualified in 1975. He would hardly be expected to be aware of any involvement of Burgdorfer in a sprogram that ceased in 1969 and was tidied up, after a fashion, by about 1971.
     
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  12. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Given the certainty as to the lack of interest of bio-warfare research into tick borne infection, it would be interesting to have the views of Osterholme and the WP on this paper from 1967 relating to laboratory acquired infection of RM Spotted Fever at Fort Detrick. The program seems to have been ongoing for at least 15 years
    https://sci-hub.se/10.1056/NEJM196710192771603

    Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Acquired in a Laboratory

    • Joseph E. Johnson, III, M.D.†,
    • and Paul J. Kadull, M.D.‡

    Abstract

    This article has no abstract; the first 100 words appear below.

    ROCKY Mountain spotted fever, first recognized in Montana in 1873, has now been reported from at least 46 of the United States, and is a disease of significant prevalence and severity.1 Ordinarily transmitted to man in the United States by the bite of 1 of 4 species of ticks, it has not been identified as a frequent cause of laboratory-acquired infection, and few laboratory cases have been reported.2 3 4 5 When such cases have occurred they have usually been attributed to the bite of a tick being handled in the laboratory.This series of 5 cases of laboratory-acquired Rocky Mountain spotted fever . . .


    October 19, 1967
    N Engl J Med 1967; 277:842-847
    DOI: 10.1056/NEJM196710192771603

    Sorr,y I don't know how to do this neatly and make it disappear.
     
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  13. chrisb

    chrisb Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    There are some revelations in that last paper sufficient to pique one's interest.

    Of 1520 Fort Detrick workers, 400 were considered at risk from RMSF. Presumably this does not mean that at any one time a quarter of the workforce was at risk, but that over the duration of the project a quarter were involved in some way or another. That still suggests a significant operation.

    Amongst those specifically stated to be at risk were "aerosol chamber operators". One would infer from this that whatever they were doing was tested in the "eight-ball". But the 1977 army report does not disclose any such tests. It could be that any tests were amongst those said to be classified, but, if so, why?

    The 1977 report does not include RMSF as amongst the "agents" produced at Pine Bluff, and there seems to have been no testing at Dugway.

    If one were intent on vaccine or prophylactic development there would seem to be no need to aerosolise the bacterium, which would appear to be adjunct to weaponization.

    Given that it is 50 years since the end of the offensive program there seems no longer to be need for secrecy.

    Perhaps there is a possibility that work continued for defensive capability, but it seems likely that there are much greater threats.

    All that is required is an innocent explanation. Nature abhors a vacuum.

    I realise that this may not be relevant to Lyme, sensu stricto, but there remains the possibility of some connection to Lyme, sensu lato.
     
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  14. duncan

    duncan Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    My unscientific rule of thumb is tone.

    Measured responses that stick to science and avoid circular reasoning, I give these folk some respect, but it's been my experience that they are becoming an increasingly rare breed. (The Irony here is I am referring to mainstream TBD researchers, not Lyme advocates.)

    Ad hominen attacks, articles or opinion pieces that ooze disdain for patients - these are red flags. Add to that circular reasoning. These people love to make claims, then support those claims using themselves or one of their disciples as reference points. They've been doing it for 35 years.

    RMSF concerns me because of the rickettsial lineage. The new co-chair of the federal TBD workforce is a rickettsial man, which is more than a little odd, since you'd think it would be a Lyme expert.

    So, does rickettsia come into play? No one is testing for the Swiss Agent, but I guess they could if they wanted to. One theory is it's the Swiss Agent that is making people who get Lyme stay sick, right? That when you contract Lyme, you unknowingly also contract the Swiss Agent. That the Swiss Agent is more prevalent than Bb, as it was in Benach's cohort of ticks.

    Still, wouldn't pretty much any rickettsial bug get snuffed when they threw doxy at it, as you know they would if they suspected Lyme?

    Except something happens the longer the bug - whatever bug - is in you. almost like in fuses inside you.

    I think Newby takes it one or two steps further. She doesn't say so in the book, but in an interview I watched, and I think in her response to the WaPo article, she seems to feel that we tinkered with genetics and crafted a chimera. Tests wouldn't necessarily pick it up. If she has evidence to that end, I'd love to see it, because it's notoriously difficult to disprove there is no invisible 500 lb gorilla in the room.

    But if the tone in that WaPo piece is any indicator, then I'd wonder if Newby is onto something.
     
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