The U.S. House of Representatives has quietly passed a bill to review a horrifying prospect.
The bill requires the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (DoD) to examine whether the Pentagon had experimented with ticks and other insects that suck blood as biological weapons between the years 1950 and 1975.
If the Inspector General does uncover these experiments as facts, they must report the research to the House and Senate Armed Services Committee to determine “whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design.” If they were, the insects hold the potential of spreading diseases such as Lyme. 
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks.
- Facial paralysis
- Muscle and joint aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rash called erythema migrans appearing at the tick bite
If the infection is left untreated, it could spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Fortunately, most cases of Lyme disease can be healed within a few weeks of antibiotics. However chronic Lyme disease is a growing concern.
Lyme disease is preventable with proper protection.
- Use insect repellent
- Remove ticks promptly after being bitten
- Know tick habitats, such as grassy and brushy areas, or on animals
- Check clothing for ticks after walking outdoors
- Check pets after they are outside
- Shower soon after coming home to rinse off unattached ticks 
The Background Behind the Bill
Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey initiated this amendment after being inspired by books and article that claimed the U.S. government had used research facilities such as Plum Island, New York, and Fort Detrick, Maryland to conduct these infected tick experiments.
“If true, what were the parameters of the program? Who ordered it?” Smith said during the debate for the amendment. “Was there any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any of the diseased ticks?”
One of the referred-to books includes Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons by Stanford University science writer and former Lyme suffer Kris Newby. It was published earlier this year. It features an interview with the late Swiss-born scientist Willy Burgdorfer, who once worked for the DoD as a bioweapons specialist and was credited with discovering the bacterial pathogen that causes Lyme disease.
“Those interviews combined with access to Dr. Burgdorfer’s lab files suggest that he and other bioweapons specialists stuffed ticks with pathogens to cause severe disability, disease—even death—to potential enemies,” said Smith during the debate on the House floor.
“With Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases exploding in the United States—with an estimated 300,000 to 437,000 new cases diagnosed each year and 10-20 percent of all patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease—Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true,” he said. “And have these experiments caused Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases to mutate and to spread?”
The investigation, according to Smith, should address the following questions:
“What were the parameters of the program? Who ordered it? Was there ever any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any diseased ticks? Were any ticks released by design? Did the program contribute to the disease burden? Can any of this information help current-day researchers find a way to mitigate these diseases?” 
There are nearly 30,000 cases of Lyme disease reported to the CDC every year. Smith has also written the TICK Act, which will create a holistic governmental strategy to fight Lyme disease and provide $180 million to fund research, treatment, and prevention of the disease. 
The Opposition of the Bill
However, certain Lyme experts—including Phillip Baker, Executive Director of the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF)—state a warning that Smith’s claims should be viewed with a grain of salt. The refer to Smith as “terribly misinformed” with “false and misleading information.”
“I think that Rep. Chris Smith is terribly misinformed by the Lyme disease activists and by the false and misleading information,” Baker said. “He would be well advised to check the facts by consulting the experts on Lyme disease at the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] for accurate and reliable information before proposing such legislation.”
Baker commented on the fact that some people claim Lyme disease spread to the northeastern region of the U.S. after the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, leaked from the biological warfare facility on Plum Island.
“However, there is ample evidence to indicate that both Ixodes ticks and B. burgdorferi were present in the U.S. well before the Plum Island facility was ever established,” he said, adding that the center claims to have never studied Lyme disease.
According to Baker, the rationale for believing Lyme disease was used for biowarfare is “flawed.” 
With the bill already passed, time will tell what the Inspector General will uncover during the research.
- Julian Borger. House orders Pentagon to review if it exposed Americans to weaponisedticks https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/16/pentagon-review-weaponised-ticks-lyme-disease July 16, 2019
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme Disease https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
- Emily Tillet. House passes amendment ordering Pentagon to review whether U.S. experimented with weaponizing ticks https://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-passes-amendment-ordering-pentagon-to-investigate-whether-ticks-were-weaponized/ July 16, 2019
- Christina Maxouris. House of Representatives orders Pentagon to investigate whether ticks were once used as biological weapons https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/17/politics/lyme-disease-amendment-investigation/index.html July 17, 2019
- Aristos Geurgious. Pentagon have release weaponized ticks that helped spread of Lyme disease: investigation ordered https://www.newsweek.com/pentagon-weaponized-ticks-lyme-disease-investigation-1449737 July 17, 2019
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