Conversations about Lyme Disease with Sufferers and Lyme Experts
Author of Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons(Publisher: Harper Wave)
“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, investigative correspondent, ‘Science’
Kris was also Senior Producer of the documentary, ‘Under Our Skin.’’
“A gripping tale of microbes, medicine & money, Under Our Skin’ exposes the hidden story of Lyme disease.”
Its sequelis ‘Emergence’, both available free on Amazon Prime. DVD’s can also be ordered online.
Notes on the interview
Kris explains how she and her husband were bitten in 2002 on Martha’s Vineyard and both became very ill with Lyme (a co-infection of Borrelia Burgdorferi and Babesia).
She says there is a public facing story that really starts in 1982 when Willy Burgdorfer wrote an article for ‘Science’ magazine about his discovery of the spirochetal bacterium which caused an outbreak in the 1970’s around Long Island and Lyme in Connecticut, which was named after him, ‘Borrelia Burgdorferi’ (Lyme Disease).
When Kris was working on the documentary ‘Under Our Skin’ about Lyme Disease, she spent years researching the illness and found that what academic medicine was saying about Lyme Disease and what was actually happening to patients was vastly different.She says the Government wasn’t being forthright about this disease.
She recounts Willy Burgdorfer’s Swiss background and expertise in borrelia and tick borne diseases.In 1952 he was recruited into a bioweapons programme at Hamilton, Montana, which had specialised in a tick borne disease, Rickettsia rickettsi (Rocky Mountain Fever) and where he was responsible for weaponising fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
In 2007 in an interview for ‘Under Our Skin’, Willy had by then retired and agreed to be interviewed.However, someone from the lab’ arrived and said that there were things Willy couldn’t talk about.
Nevertheless Willy admitted that the NIH knew Lyme could be chronic (even though the literature said that it wasn’t):he said Lyme Disease was particularly damaging to the development of children’s neurological systems.He also said that the Lyme research was riggedand “I didn’t tell you everything.”
In an interview about bioweapons Willy confirmed that Lyme Disease had been developed in his lab during the Cold War (1950’s and 60’s) and that the outbreak (in Connecticut and Long Island) had been caused by a biological weapons experiment.
Kris went through Willy’s records in the National Archives and was surprised to find no documents about his ‘discovery’ (Lyme Disease), there were no images or references to it, which she says was “a missing piece of the puzzle”.
During the outbreak where rickettsia had been discovered, Willy was sent to Switzerland for 8 months to gather ticks.On his return he came back with a new discovery (a rickettsia pathogen) which he called the 'Swiss Agent’.On examining the blood of patients involved in the outbreak he found evidence of the ‘Swiss Agent’.In later scientific papers Kris couldn’t find any reference to the ‘Swiss Agent’ so she flew to see Willy in 2013 to find out why.
He confirmed that his lab work had involved weaponising ticks to be dropped on the enemy.With this information Kris decided to investigate and write her book which supported Willy’s confession but also uncovered several mysteries - what happened to all the information on the Swiss Agent?Why did it disappear? Why was Willy suddenly praised for discovering the ‘Lyme Disease’ spirochete?
Amongst his papers there was a deposit slip for a hidden Swiss Bank Account which held an enormous amount of money, no one in his family knew about this.
Willy had 2 visits from Government agents who asked him about some virulent pathogens which had gone missing from his lab.He mentioned to Kris that the Russians had stolen them.
In Willy’s private archive which he withheld from the NIH there was a note on a folder of his experiments saying:
“I wondered why somebody didn’t do something.
Then I realised that I am somebody.” (Willy Burgdorfer)