Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

by Kris Newby
Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

by Kris Newby


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062896285
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 06/30/2020
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 129,372
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Kris Newby is an award-winning science writer at Stanford University and the senior producer of the Lyme disease documentary, Under Our Skin, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was a 2010 Oscar semifinalist. Previously, Newby was a technology writer for Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. She lives in Palo Alto.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 Bitten 5

Chapter 2 The Scientist 11

The Cold War

Chapter 3 Coin Toss 21

Chapter 4 Bitterroot Bride 31

Chapter 5 Big Itch 45

Chapter 6 Fever 59

Chapter 7 Special Operations 65

Chapter 8 Behind the Curtain 75

The Hunt

Chapter 9 Out of the Abyss 83

Chapter 10 Confession 97

Chapter 11 Missing Files 105

Chapter 12 Last Interview 113

Chapter 13 Rebellion 119

Chapter 14 Smoking Gun 127

Chapter 15 Eight Ball 135

Chapter 16 Speed Chess 143

Chapter 17 Fear 149


Chapter 18 Fog of War 157

Chapter 19 Lone Star 165

Chapter 20 Survival 171

Chapter 21 Castleman's Case 175

Chapter 22 Red Velvet Mites 181

Chapter 23 Wildfire 185

Chapter 24 Swiss Agent 195

Chapter 25 Collateral Damage 203


Chapter 28 Discovery 215

Chapter 27 DNA Detectives 227

Chapter 28 Change Agent 235

Chapter 29 Sins of Our Fathers 239

Chapter 30 Surrender 243

Epilogue 249

Acknowledgments 253

Appendix I Ticks and Human Disease Agents 257

Appendix II Uncontrolled Tick Releases, 1986-1969 259

Glossary 261

Notes 271

Selected Bibliography 293

Image Credits 299

Index 303

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