Author of Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons
“Bitten” is a riveting narrative that digs into the origins of the Lyme disease epidemic. It connects many dots with compelling evidence and page-turning storytelling that point to the likelihood that a bio-weaponized tick program gone awry could have contributed to the more virulent forms of tick-borne illnesses that have been wreaking havoc on unwitting people for the past five decades. Doctors are not well-trained on tick-borne illness, diagnostics are inadequate, and there are no career tracks in the field other than a few courageous pioneers. Biotech is largely on the sidelines. Yet millions of people are being disabled. Perhaps this book will help stir some action. After all, we all are just one bite away from a nightmare illness. — Nancy Dougherty, Boston
“In turns a Cold War mystery story, medical memoir, and dogged investigation, BITTEN reveals groundbreaking evidence that sheds important new light on the genesis and evolution of one of the most baffling and controversial diseases of our time.” - Charles Piller, Science Magazine
In short, Newby posits that the government of the United States, specifically its biological weapons program during the Cold War, experimented on ticks and other little beasties in order to learn the most efficient way to spread horrific disease among an enemy's population, both military and civilian.
Newby, an award-winning science writer at Stanford University and the senior producer of the Lyme disease documentary Under Our Skin, interviewed biosecurity experts and microbiologists doing cutting-edge research. One of her most crucial sets of interviews was with Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind Lyme.
Burgdorfer was open with Newby about his formerly secret role in developing bug-borne biological weapons during the Cold War. He freely admitted to opening up and adding other "bugs" to a vast number of imported ticks to try to make them more lethal and misery-causing. He told her he suspected that one of these military experiments may have gone wrong, perhaps releasing a batch of these super ticks into the countryside.
Burgdorger hinted to Newby that he realized eventually that what he had been doing was not a good thing. She states she wrote this book in hopes that a whistle-blower will come forward with more information.
Meanwhile, it appears that many in the medical community do not know exactly what they are dealing with. They have been known to use unreliable tests when patients show signs of chronic Lyme disease, and they often do not make correct diagnoses. Newby and her husband were once bitten by ticks and, though it took 10 doctors and many years, they eventually got the necessary treatment.
I have a good friend who suffers greatly from the ravages of chronic Lyme disease, as do her now-grown children. It took decades before a correct diagnosis was arrived at, and by then, serious complications had set in. Her son, now virtually bed-bound, apparently got the disease during his birth and, as yet, no cure has been found for him. The lives of my friend, her children, and millions of other Americans continue to be thoroughly compromised.
I'm not a medical doctor, nor am I personally involved in the Lyme community, but I know a fascinating topic and a very readable and credible book when I read it. I highly recommend you read Bitten and judge for yourself.