Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory

Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory

by Michael C Carroll


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Strictly off limits to the public, Plum Island is home to virginal beaches, cliffs, forests, ponds — and the deadliest germs that have ever roamed the planet. Lab 257 blows the lid off the stunning true nature and checkered history of Plum Island. It shows that the seemingly bucolic island in the shadow of New York City is a ticking biological time bomb that none of us can safely ignore.

Based on declassified government documents, in-depth interviews, and access to Plum Island itself, this is an eye-opening, suspenseful account of a federal government germ laboratory gone terribly wrong. For the first time, Lab 257 takes you deep inside this secret world and presents startling revelations on virus outbreaks, biological meltdowns, infected workers, the periodic flushing of contaminated raw sewage into area waters, and the insidious connections between Plum Island, Lyme disease, and the deadly West Nile virus. The book also probes what's in store for Plum Island's new owner, the Department of Homeland Security, in this age of bioterrorism.

Lab 257 is a call to action for those concerned with protecting present and future generations from preventable biological catastrophes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060781842
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/09/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 75,078
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Michael Christopher Carroll spent seven years researching and writing Lab 257. A native of Long Island and an avid outdoorsman, Carroll is now general counsel of a New York-based finance company. He lives on Long Island and in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Lab 257

The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory
By Michael Carroll

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Michael Carroll
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006078184X

1975: The Lyme Connection

Dear Ann,

Have you ever heard of Lyme disease? I am writing this letter because I know you can help thousands of people by warning them about this awful sickness. I have been battling it for 18 months. Frankly I am not doing well.

It would be impossible for me to describe the emotional and physical pain that I have been through. I am a 42-year-old man, married nearly 20 years, and have a family. The days of slinging a 100-pound sack of bird-seed over my shoulder and walking to the backyard are over.

Today I can't even lift a five-pound sack of flour. There was a time when I could play nine musical instruments. I sang in the church choir and ran my own small business. Today, I do none of the above. I am saving all my energy to fight Lyme disease.

The treatment costs are staggering. IV antibiotic therapy runs from $150 to $475 a treatment ... We have already taken out a third mortgage on our home. Had I been aware of the symptoms from the beginning, I could have had $15 worth of oral antibiotics and that would have done the job.

Thank you, Ann, for allowing me to try to help others.

--S.J.N., Mattituck, N.Y.

Protecting a nuclear power plant is no small task. When it opened in the 1980s, the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island's North Shore boasted a 175-man militia equipped with Uzi 9-millimeters, AR-15 assault rifles, and 12-gauge shotguns. This elite paramilitary unit patrolled the "protected area," a dense forest hundreds of acres deep that buffered the "controlled area," a huge concrete dome sheltering the uranium nuclear reactor. Every eight hours, a fresh detachment of fifty men, armed to the teeth and clad in steel-toed boots, tan pants, and khaki shirts, marched in lockstep through the protected area along dirt paths and through marshes, their watchful eyes and ears continually scanning for intruders. One Shoreham security officer, a short, blond-bearded, barrel-chested man, remembers the scene during the 3:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. shift in October 1987. His platoon had just moved out, marching into a field where they often spotted herds of thirty or forty wild deer darting ahead of them into the wooded glen. He felt a brief pinch on his left ankle and thought it was the stiff new Army boots he was breaking in. Later that night, he went home and showered. Pulling off his white tube socks, he noticed a small red mark on his ankle. Those damn boots, he thought, and went to bed.

When he awoke the next morning, the nagging blister had grown, so he grabbed tweezers from the bathroom vanity and poked at the area. Suddenly, something started to move, and he realized it wasn't a blister at all. It was a live bug. Panicked, he frantically dug into it. As he extracted the critter, it broke in two, spilling its insides into the microscopic holes it punched into his body.

Seventy-two hours later, he thought he had caught the flu. Within a week, his joints began to ache.

Most people don't think of deer as swimmers. But swim they do. Indigenous to most of the United States and Canada, white-tailed deer can swim distances as long as four miles.

Their natural predators -- wolf, bear, mountain lion, and coyote -- are long extinct from the northeastern landscape, but one tiny foe remains. Poised atop a blade of grass, the deer tick waits patiently for anything warm-blooded to brush by, feeding on deer as well as smaller creatures like birds and mice. The tick jumps aboard and pierces its sharp mouth hooks into the skin of its unlucky host. A tiny glutton with a king-sized appetite, the tick sucks the blood of its host in a feast that can last up to two whole days, while it swells to a bubble over three times its original size. At the same time, the little parasite deposits its own fluids into the host, fluids that sometimes prove fatal.

The feeding habits of ticks and the swimming abilities of deer were of little concern to the residents of Old Lyme, Connecticut, in July 1975. This quaint New England town is, for the most part, an upper-crust community with tree-lined streets and fine colonial and Federal-style homes. As one of America's oldest towns, founded by English Puritans, Old Lyme was enjoying its tricentennial as the nation prepared for a bicentennial. But a strange set of occurrences that year would forever change its reputation from a warm, charming enclave to a place of fear and despair.

Old Lyme, nestled on the banks of the Connecticut River, sits just a shade north of the Long Island Sound. The midsummer weather in 1975 was typical for coastal Connecticut -- hot, sticky, and humid. As little ones frolicked in the sun, ignoring the blistering heat, and grown-ups sought refuge on their porches by night, grateful for a balmy summer breeze, Polly Murray and Judith Mensch noticed something unusual about their children. Seemingly out of nowhere, they were showing signs of strange physical and mental ailments. Alarmed, the two mothers quickly phoned their neighbors, who were observing strikingly similar conditions in their own children. Many of the kids in the neighborhood -- and some adults -- were suffering from the same skin rashes, throbbing headaches, and painful swollen joints.

Together, Polly and Judith brought their concerns to the Connecticut Department of Health, which immediately appointed physicians from Yale University to investigate. Initially, the doctors misdiagnosed thirty-nine children and twelve adults with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, a condition they named "Lyme arthritis," after the town where the strange outbreak occurred. Two years later, scientists linked Lyme arthritis to the bite of a deer tick. And in 1981, Dr. Wally Burgdorfer, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, discovered a thin spiral bacteria -- in technical terms, a spirochete -- immersed in the fluid of a deer tick. He proved that the new spirochete was to blame -- not for a Lyme arthritis, but for an entirely new ailment: Lyme disease.


Excerpted from Lab 257 by Michael Carroll Copyright © 2005 by Michael Carroll. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What makes this an interesting read is that the bioagri-weapons researchers can work for different countries, and outbreaks in different countries and in the USA are traced to Plum Island, NY. Instead of a beachy keen tourist destination, Plum Island is presented as a high level bioagri-warfare research center with antiquated facilities and low security just off of the coast of Long Island, Connecticut and around 40 miles from New York City. It explains the massive spraying of pesticides for decades in the tristate area to combat ticks (potential Lyme Disease carriers), mosquitoes (potential carriers of West Nile), etc., since they all could be carrying virulence developed on Plum Island, NY. First its the bioagri-weapons (covered in this book) then the horrid pesticides. A one-two punch knockout. A very, very, frightening read about the USA's Department of Defense.
GT-Colorado More than 1 year ago
The authored raised some interesting questions about the operations at this government lab and how government can mismanage and potential create a biological disaster. The author suggested that Lymes disease and West Nile virus may have been released into the environment from the reaseach and development at this government laboratory. The author does not explain in detail, but suggests this claim. Given the track record of government laboratories and especially those laboratories that are underfunded, it would not come as any surprise to reasonable person. I am doubtful of Lyme disease, although possible given the author does provide any concrete proof there was reaseach conducted with the infectious agent or related microbe associated with Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorfi). The same can be said of West Nile virus, although this agent may be more plausible, though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the book. I question the location of such a laboratory in close proximity to a large metroplitan area and in the path of hurricanes that have struck the facility.
Ethan79 More than 1 year ago
Lab 257 was an exciting book about a secret government germ laboratory that ended up letting out a massive virus into the air and ecosystem. It is placed on Plum Island where they ran tests on animals and contained very deadly germs. Throughout the book it explains how two deadly viruses broke out and became airborne. This book was a wakeup call to me because it shows how the government is hiding things from the people and citizens of America and because of that it has cost lives to be lost. After reading Lab 257 I feel like it has changed the way I think about the US government and how even they have secrets.
JessicaC35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This frightening book explores one of the countries biggest biological research laboratories from opening to current day. It explores the dangerous diseases, security issues, and funding issues surrounding the facilities. Weather, outbreaks, and politics surrounding this scientific research are explored.
KevinJoseph on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever wonder about the origins of Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus? Lab 257 begins by presenting an interesting circumstantial case that the outbreak of these strange maladies in the U.S. may be traced to the secret government facility at Plum Island. The author then proceeds to explain how, thanks to inadequate funding, managerial complacency, and insufficient governmental oversight, this once state-of-the-art animal disease laboratory has degenerated into an environmental hazard of startling proportions, making future outbreaks of other frightening biological agents all too possible. The book concludes with some useful suggestions regarding alternatives to the current situation at Plum Island, acknowledging the heightened importance of its charter in the post-9/11 world. While some may find the details a bit dense in parts, it's a fine piece of investigative journalism that cries out for concerned citizens and politicians to take notice. -Kevin Joseph, author of "The Champion Maker"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The LP
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The author is trying to make a conspiracy out of something that really should be left alone. Yes, the island in the book has had incidents in the past, but independent research will confirm these issues have been fixed. The end of the book is a terrorist how-to guide to conducting a biological attack on a city. I would recommend staying away. The proper research was not done and it is clear the author cherry-picked his facts to prove a point.
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Result 2: bios/ result 3: main testing chamber/ result 4 and on: cells/ rules: everyone gets their own cell until we run out room. You are to stay in your cells unless brought out for testing. You are all volunteers, so if you need anything, let us know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Which way to the Rainbow Factory?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What happened to all the previous reviews?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok ok she took him to sjr (no typo) res onr
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He walks in little blue fairy trailing after" need some help?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sure. Go to the next result. This is the storage room.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All righty then we add the spring and there super jump shoes are made