Lyme Disease Origin Conspiracy Theories

Plum_Island_Animal_Disease_Center

Plum Island Animal Disease Center - The focus of Lyme disease conspiracy theories.

There are plenty of conspiracy theories about Lyme disease, including the notion that the US government actually created Lyme disease on Plum Island, an animal research laboratory based off the coast near Connecticut. No substantiated reason for the government to do such a thing has been given however, despite people comparing it to scandals such as syphilis experiments run by the US government in Guatemala in the 1940s.

There is some speculation that ticks were being pursued as an agent of infection as part of biological warfare research, although no proof exists to support such claims. Those raising this suspicion have noted the slightly peculiar nature of the Lyme disease bacteria and wondered if it could have been genetically engineered. The basis of such queries is the presence of gene duplications, deletions, mutations, and pseudogenes in the gram-negative spirochaete which are considered by some as unlikely to arise naturally.


Accidental Lyme Disease Outbreak

The alternative to the conspiracy theory accusing the government of intentionally infecting the population with Lyme disease is that the bacteria was accidentally spread from the Island by birds crossing between the animal research laboratory and the mainland or by the employees of the lab. If this were the case then the first victims of Lyme disease may be more likely to have worked at the laboratory or live with someone who did. The occupations of those first identified as infected with Borrelia in Connecticut remain unknown however, but could be found out by a thorough investigation of the origins of Lyme disease. Should it be found that the Plum Island laboratory was the epicenter of the Lyme disease outbreak, questions regarding national security and biohazards must be raised as this research facility also handles deadly agents such as Ebola and anthrax. It appears unlikely however that Borrelia burgdorferi was created at the lab, either intentionally or accidentally, given the evidence suggesting that it has a much longer history.

How Lyme Disease went Unnoticed

One of the major issues concerning Lyme disease conspiracy theorists is the idea that the bacteria causing Lyme disease could be so old but that the apparent incidence of the condition is, historically, quite rare. The assumption of Lyme’s rarity is based on there being easily recognized symptoms of the infection, such as the erythema migrans rash and yet many of those advocating these conspiracy also believe that Lyme is currently under-diagnosed because the rash does not always appear. It is perfectly feasible that the rash was not observed in patients with darker skin, or those being bitten on the backs of the knees or head, or in-between toes and so forth. Similarly, the actual incidence of Lyme disease may always have been higher than reported making the presence of erythema migrans even less common than currently thought.

Continue Reading –> The Origin of Lyme Disease and its Spread