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Weaponized Ticks? (This Is A Real Question)

Weaponized Ticks
Written by Brian Tarcy

CAPE COD – Weaponized ticks? Last week the United States Congress quietly voted to look into whether disease-carrying ticks are descendants of weaponized ticks from the American military.

Bitten book

The cover of Kris Newby’s book.

It sounds like the plot of a bad 1960s science fiction film, but according to Kris Newby, author of “Bitten: The Secret History Of Lyme Disease And Biological Weapons” a real nightmare from the 1960s government bioweapons flirtations may be playing out all over Cape Cod and much of the East Coast.

While the Senate and President Trump have yet to approve the defense budget, the defense appropriation bill approved by Congress, includes the amendment by Chris Smith (R- New Jersey) that, “Directs the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to initiate an investigation into the Department’s possible involvement in the bioweaponization of ticks and other insects.”according to a Congressional website,

Reporter John Donnelly of CQ Roll Call, reported that “the unusual proposal” passed by a “voice vote.”

Smith told the Asbury Park Press on May 30, “If this (book) is true — and the documentation is very persuasive — we were doing bio-weapons work that was grossly immoral. It’s a shocking read, and I hope it adds to our push. Looking at what happened might help us come up with how we deal with it now.”

Congress has acted. But as of now, that means nothing.


WaveConspiracy Theory? Truth? Some Of Both?

Lyme disease has been around for thousands of years, said Larry Dapsis, Deer Tick Project Coordinator for the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.

Still, Dapsis said, “The Lyme disease community is just a mind blower with all the information flowing around.”

Describing himself as “a simple entomologist,” whose job it is to “protect the people of Cape Cod through education and research,” Dapsis said that the idea of government involvement in creating tick-borne diseases has been documented in other books he has read.

** Click here for tick-borne illness protection information from Cape Cod County Extension ** 

Dapsis said that figuring out the mystery is “above my pay grade.”

“There’s something within the layers of the onion. It’s just that you don’t know what it is.” – Larry Dapsis, Deer Tick Project Coordinator for the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension

But, he said, “There’s something within the layers of the onion. It’s just that you don’t know what it is.”

“Is it just sloppy science in a lab?” he asked, based on reports he has read that “there were flawed procedures for quarantine and things like that.”

“To think that it could be something as devious as engineered weapons to use against people with pathogens, that’s just hard to think about,” he said.

And even Newby, the author of “Bitten,” said that while she was sure that the US government had “a concerted program to weaponize ticks and put germs in them and drop them from airplanes on our enemies,” she does not have direct evidence that that program’s existence led to the epidemic of tick-borne illnesses in the United States.

Instead, she has a a theory backed by circumstantial evidence, missing government files, a cryptic interview with an aging scientist, since passed, and five years of research that led her to the conclusion that there are a lot of suspicious things about the story of tick-borne illnesses.

One of her readers seemingly agreed.


WaveTwo Minutes in Congress

According to the Congressional record, Congressman Smith spoke for two minutes about the amendment. There was no further discussion.

This is what Smith said:

     “For years, books and articles have been written suggesting that significant research had been done at U.S. Government facilities, including Fort Detrick and Plum Island, to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons.

Now, a new book, “Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons,” by Kris Newby, includes interviews with Dr. Willy Burgdorfer, the researcher who is credited with discovering Lyme disease. It turns out Dr. Burgdorfer was also a bioweapons specialist.

The interviews combined with access to Dr. Burgdorfer’s lab files reveal that he and other bioweapons specialists stuffed ticks with pathogens to cause severe disability, disease, even death to potential enemies.

With Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases exploding in the United States, with an estimated 300,000 to 427,000 new cases each year and 10 to 20 percent of all patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease, I believe Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true.

If true, what were the parameters of the program?

Who ordered it?

Was there any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any of the diseased ticks?

Were any ticks released by design?

In the book, there is some talk of that happening at or near Richmond, Virginia. Can any of this information help current-day researchers–and this is most  important of all — help current-day researchers find a way to mitigate and maybe even cure these diseases?

It should be noted for the record that it was President Richard Nixon in 1969 who ordered the end to all bioweapons research, but we know that there were tick farms at Plum Island and Fort Detrick, like I said earlier, and other places where this research was done.

We need to know. I encourage Members to read this book if they get the time, “Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons.” Again, it may offer some clues as to how we combat this terrible epidemic of Lyme disease in the United States.

My amendment tasks the DoD Inspector General to ask the hard questions and report back. The millions of people suffering from Lyme and other tick-borne diseases deserve to know the truth.”


WaveA Conspiracy Theory Finds An Author

Kris Newby, who is an engineer by training but is now a science writer for the Stanford Medical School, and her husband were celebrating a career success when they went to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation in 2002. When they returned to California, she said, they both became “incredibly sick.”

“It took a year, ten doctors and $60,000 to diagnose it as Lyme disease, and it took five years to treat it,” she said. In that time, she said, writing about medicine “became my favorite topic.”

Kris Newby author photo

Kris Newby author photo

She also spent more than three years on a documentary, “Under Our Skin,” about Lyme disease that made the short list (top 15) for an Oscar nomination, she said. 

And after going on an IV, she said, “it finally killed the bugs in my head.”

After the documentary and finally being “cured,” Newby said “I was done with Lyme disease.”

But then she got a call from another film maker, “a friend of Michael Moore’s,” who saw her film and told her that Lyme disease was caused by a bioweapon. He had an interview with the old scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, who had discovered the pathogen that causes Lyme disease.

In the film Newby watched, Burgdorfer, who had Parkinson’s Disease, say that the outbreak that initially showed up in Lyme, Connecticut “was caused by a bioweapon.”

She showed the video to “some journalist friends” who expressed skepticism. She decided to dig into it.

She said her reaction was, “I’m in shock if it’s true because it’s a true crime against humanity.”


WaveWhat If This Conspiracy Theory Is True?

Newby tracked down Burgdorfer. “When I go to visit Willy, I am totally pulled in by his story,” she said. He told her of a two-decade career “weaponizing fleas with the plague, mosquitos with yellow fever and ticks with various diseases.”

But Burgdorfer was old, in failing health and unable or, she guessed, unwilling to reveal all his secrets. Instead, she said, he gave hints and expressed an unnamed regret. He “dropped breadcrumbs,” she said.

Newby knew she had something. For five years, she kept digging.

In the Lyme community, she said, “the rumors were always around. “Everyone knows that Plum Island, (near the northeast corner of Long Island) was a biological weapons research site,” she said.

The story she told Cape Cod Wave by phone was an amazing tale from the middle of the century. “They were doing dangerous experiments on an island. They thought being on an island would protect people,” said Newby.

Rumors in the Lyme community persisted of an infected deer that swam off the island and started the spread of the infected ticks, she said.

But Newby told a far darker tale than that – a circumstantial case that raises more questions than answers but has apparently caught the attention of the United States Congress.

The work being done on bioweapons, she said, was “almost as large as the Manhattan Project” that had developed the atomic bomb.

“At one time, they were considering having a Nazi in charge of it,” she said. It was a time, just after World War II, when Americans were working with “the brightest minds in biological weapons and rocketry,” she said.

In the end, the Nazi did not get the job, she said. But he worked there.

Because bioweapons was such a large yet secretive program, said Newby, “there’s been a lot of conjecture” as to the programs.

It has been well-established, she said, that many bioweapons programs existed and several tests were conducted on the American people without their knowledge. Some tests, she said, were done “without carefully thinking through them.”

One of the programs that existed, said Newby, was a program to infect ticks and other insects with infectious diseases and then release them on our enemies. 

Dapsis, who read the book, “Lab 57, The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory,” (HarperCollins, 2004) by Michael Carroll, said of Plum Island, “Could pathogens have gotten out of that place. Well, there was an exotic disease that nearly wiped out the Long Island duck industry.”

Newby cited the duck industry catastrophe and other episodes in building her case. 

Radioctive ticks released in Virginia. A toxic soup of diseases put into insects, maybe ticks, and released in “open air experiments.” Radioactive ticks being tracked by Geiger Counters.

“I talked to the person who released ticks in Northern Virginia. I talked to the person who packaged ticks into munitions,” she said. 

She talked of “three freaky diseases” all showing up in Long Island all at once in the late 1960s. “It looks suspicious. It looks unnatural,” she said of this sudden appearance of tick-borne illnesses. 

And through telling this tale quickly by phone, Newby talked about how much of the “Pearl Harbor generation… took a loyalty oath” and “went to their grave” with government secrets.

It all sounded like something that should be narrated by Rod Serling from the old Twilight Zone, and, indeed, Newby said, “it’s so freaky, so mysterious.”

“The conspiracy people love it,” she said. “I just talked to Jesse Ventura. But the mainstream media has been completely ignoring it, which I find frustrating.”

An email and phone call was placed to Congressman William Keating’s office for comment. As of press time for this story, we have not heard back.

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You Can't Sell Right FieldPlease see, based on the true story of a Cape Cod land deal, from Cape Cod Wave: YOU CAN’T SELL RIGHT FIELD, A Cape Cod Novel


About the author

Brian Tarcy

Brian Tarcy is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. He is a longtime journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the Cape Cod Times and several other publications. He is the author of "YOU CAN'T SELL RIGHT FIELD; A Cape Cod Novel." He is also the author or co-author of more than a dozen mostly non-fiction books, including books with celebrity athletes Cam Neely, Tom Glavine and Joe Theisman. His previous book was, "ALMOST: 12 Electric Months Chasing A Silicon Valley Dream" with Hap Klopp,who created the iconic brand, The North Face.
For more information, see
Brian is a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan with a long-running NFL predictions/political satire column connecting weekly world events to the fate of his favorite team, now at

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