Many in the Lyme disease community and so-called “conspiracy theorists” have been making this claim for a long time. While no surprise, the Department of Homeland Security has unequivocally denied it. On their web site “About Plum Island Animal Disease Center” (PIADC), they state; “the PIADC does not and has not performed research on Lyme disease.”

What is Plum Island Animal Disease Center?

Image/ Agricultural Research Service- Keith Weller

According to their web site, “The Plum Island Animal Disease Center is a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility designed and constructed to work with the most dangerous animal diseases in the world, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), Rinderpest, and African swine fever. In fact, by federal law, Plum Island is the only place in the U.S. where FMD and Rinderpest viruses can be studied.”

Located about off the tip of Long Island, New York, it was opened in 1954 during the Cold War with a “goal” of protecting livestock from animal diseases.

Some say it was opened under “Project Paperclip”. This was a top-secret government program to recruit Nazi scientists who were working on animal diseases during WWII. It has been suspected that more than 2000 scientists were brought here and offered employment contracts and US citizenship. One of the areas of expertise they had was experiments with disease-infected ticks.

It is suspected that Dr. Erich Traub, a physician once in charge of the Third Reich’s virological and bacteriological warfare program in World War II, was involved with biological warfare research at Plum Island.

From the Belarus Secret it states; …”Even more disturbing are the records of the Nazi germ warfare scientists who came to America. They experimented with poison ticks dropped from planes to spread rare diseases. I have received some information suggesting that the U.S. tested some of these poison ticks on the Plum Island artillery range off the coast of Connecticut during the early 1950s…”

Plum Island is coincidentally within miles of the place where Lyme disease “originated”, the epicenter of Lyme, Connecticut.

People who place blame on Plum Island for Lyme disease clearly demonstrate that infected ticks from Plum Island could have easily been transported to the mainland via the hundreds of different birds that would nest there.

Is Lyme disease considered a biowarfare agent?

After years of denial that this was the case, a few years ago the Centers of Disease Control admitted when opening Margaret Batts Tobin Laboratory Building in Texas that facility would be used to study such diseases as anthrax, tularemia, cholera, lyme disease, desert valley fever and other parasitic and fungal diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified these diseases as potential bioterrorism agents.”

The causative agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) has been used in biowarfare studies before. During WWII, the infamous and murderous Japanese Unit 731 has used Bb in some of their barbaric studies according to scientist Barclay Newman.

Have the researchers at Plum Island actually ever done any experiments with tick-borne diseases?

The answer to this is an unequivocal yes. Numerous studies were done with tick diseases and the published papers are available. Here is a list of some of the papers:

“African swine fever virus multigene family 360 genes affect virus replication and generalization of infection in Ornithodoros porcinus ticks”

“Heartwater disease of domestic and wild ruminants”

“Experimental transmission of African swine fever virus by the tick Ornithodoros (Alectorobius) puertoricensis (Acari: Argasidae).”

And this is just a short list. However, this does not prove that Lyme disease originated at Plum Island, but disease-infected ticks were certainly present there.

However, the deeper you look into this issue it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion.

Whether it is the shady beginnings with Nazi scientists or later the Iraqi biowarfare scientists that have worked there, the denials and secrecy of the facility, the fact that every land area around Plum Island is endemic for Lyme disease and now Plum Island is requesting fund for upgrading the facility to a BSL-4 laboratory, questions abound.

Though we may never know if indeed Lyme disease originated out of tick-borne and biowarfare research at Plum Island, questions need to be answered and maybe an investigation is warranted.

Originally published on in October 2010