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News2007June › Lyme Disease: Of myth and men › June 2007

Lyme Disease: Of myth and men

It's long been the stuff of urban myth that Lyme disease was deliberately put into the human population as part of a bio-terrorist experiment, but a chance comment by a US government official gives some weight to the idea

It's long been the stuff of urban myth that Lyme disease was deliberately put into the human population as part of a bio-terrorist experiment, but a chance comment by a US government official gives some weight to the idea.

Apparently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified Lyme disease - along with anthrax, cholera and tularaemia - as "potential bio-terrorism agents".

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by ticks. It's certainly true that Japanese soldiers used the Borrelia genus on prisoners during the Second World War, and it makes an ideal agent because it is virtually undetectable, and can mimic diseases such as chronic fatigue and ME, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Conspiracy theorists claim that the medical establishment is in denial about the disease, and any doctor who tries to treat it is threatened with the loss of his licence.

Those who try to take a more balanced view point out that Lyme disease was first identified in Britain in 1883 as an infection caused by the wood tick. Symptoms included a rash and nervous system problems. In the USA, a similar infection called tick relapsing fever was first identified back in 1905. It became known as Lyme disease when a cluster of cases was identified in Lyme and Old Lyme in south-east Connecticut.
Never mind. Still makes a great myth.

(Source: MSN and Portland Independent Media Center).

E-news broadcast 12 October 2006 No.300 [Subscribe]


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