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Bitten : the secret history of lyme disease and biological weapons
2019
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Summary

A riveting thriller reminiscent of The Hot Zone, this true story dives into the mystery surrounding one of the most controversial and misdiagnosed conditions of our time--Lyme disease--and of Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind it, revealing his secret role in developing bug-borne biological weapons, and raising terrifying questions about the genesis of the epidemic of tick-borne diseases affecting millions of Americans today.



While on vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Kris Newby was bitten by an unseen tick. That one bite changed her life forever, pulling her into the abyss of a devastating illness that took ten doctors to diagnose and years to recover: Newby had become one of the 300,000 Americans who are afflicted with Lyme disease each year.

As a science writer, she was driven to understand why this disease is so misunderstood, and its patients so mistreated. This quest led her to Willy Burgdorfer, the Lyme microbe's discoverer, who revealed that he had developed bug-borne bioweapons during the Cold War, and believed that the Lyme epidemic was started by a military experiment gone wrong.

In a superb, meticulous work of narrative journalism, Bitten takes readers on a journey to investigate these claims, from biological weapons facilities to interviews with biosecurity experts and microbiologists doing cutting-edge research, all the while uncovering darker truths about Willy. It also leads her to uncomfortable questions about why Lyme can be so difficult to both diagnose and treat, and why the government is so reluctant to classify chronic Lyme as a disease.

A gripping, infectious page-turner, Bitten will shed a terrifying new light on an epidemic that is exacting an incalculable toll on us, upending much of what we believe we know about it.

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Booklist Review
Some 400,000 Americans a year contract Lyme disease from ticks. Could a biological-weapons release of the blood-sucking, disease-carrying parasites be responsible for rashes, swollen joints, fevers, headaches, and neurological problems? Maybe, says science writer Newby, a Lyme survivor who produced the documentary Under Our Skin (2008). She interviews many scientists, including the microbe's discoverer, Swiss American tick expert Willy Burgdorfer, and notes that the outbreak began in the late 1960s, when the military was conducting open-air tests of aerosolized bacteria and aggressive lone star ticks. Whether this theory proves to be true remains a mystery, but it's a fact that ticks have wreaked havoc for tens of millions of years. (They sucked dinosaur blood.) And it's true that reported cases of the disease have quadrupled in the United States since the 1990s. Newby ends with a call for the government to better fund and analyze the expansion of tick-borne diseases, incorporating the possibility that they were spread in an unnatural way. It's a creepy, skin-crawling theory that seems to belong in a Stephen King novel. Stay tuned.--Karen Springen Copyright 2019 Booklist
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Table of Contents
Author's Notep. xiii
Prologuep. 1
Chapter 1Bittenp. 5
Chapter 2The Scientistp. 11
The Cold War
Chapter 3Coin Tossp. 21
Chapter 4Bitterroot Bridep. 31
Chapter 5Big Itchp. 45
Chapter 6Feverp. 59
Chapter 7Special Operationsp. 65
Chapter 8Behind the Curtainp. 75
The Hunt
Chapter 9Out of the Abyssp. 83
Chapter 10Confessionp. 97
Chapter 11Missing Filesp. 105
Chapter 12Last Interviewp. 113
Chapter 13Rebellionp. 119
Chapter 14Smoking Gunp. 127
Chapter 15Eight Ballp. 135
Chapter 16Speed Chessp. 143
Chapter 17Fearp. 149
Outbreak
Chapter 18Fog of Warp. 157
Chapter 19Lone Starp. 165
Chapter 20Survivalp. 171
Chapter 21Castleman's Casep. 175
Chapter 22Red Velvet Mitesp. 181
Chapter 23Wildfirep. 185
Chapter 24Swiss Agentp. 195
Chapter 25Collateral Damagep. 203
Postmortem
Chapter 26Discoveryp. 215
Chapter 27DNA Detectivesp. 227
Chapter 28Change Agentp. 235
Chapter 29Sins of Our Fathersp. 239
Chapter 30Surrenderp. 243
Epiloguep. 249
Acknowledgmentsp. 253
Appendix ITicks and Human Disease Agentsp. 257
Appendix IIUncontrolled Tick Releases, 1966-1989p. 259
Glossaryp. 261
Notesp. 271
Selected Bibliographyp. 293
Image Creditsp. 299
Indexp. 303
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