Episode #98:  ‘Bitten the Secret History of Lyme Disease Biological Weapons’ With Kris Newby

About My Guest

My guest for this episode is Kris Newby. 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. She has two degrees in engineering, a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a Master’s degree from Stanford University. Previously, she was a technology writer for Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. She lives in Palo Alto, CA.

Key Takeaways

  • How did it feel to be a senior producer on “Under Our Skin”?
  • What did Willy Burgdorfer share in the early interviews for the film?
  • How did Willy discover the spirochete that other scientists had missed?
  • What were the goals of the biological weapons program?
  • Is Lyme disease the result of the bioweapons program or a natural occurrence?
  • What organisms were part of the cocktail that Willy was experimenting with?
  • What is the “Swiss Agent” and the role it may play in the Lyme disease epidemic?
  • What is the “Anthrax Hotel” and the “Eight Ball”? What happened to those that were part of the experiments at the “Eight Ball”?
  • What role do viruses and parasites play in Lyme disease?
  • Was Willy a good guy or a bad guy?
  • Did Willy’s own death from Parkinson’s disease potentially result from his own experiments?

Connect With My Guest


Interview Date

May 22, 2019


The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today’s discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.


Book Review:  https://lymediseaseassociation.org/about-lyme/controversy/conflict-report-sp-560/bitten-book-review/  May 21, 2019

The debate over the prevalence of Lyme disease and whether it exists in a chronic form has raged for decades. Kris Newby’s well researched book provides documented evidence that the suspicions of disease sufferers, their advocates, and treating physicians deserve investigation. The properties of the pathogen itself and its ally, the tick, appear to be part of our nation’s biowarfare studies.

Swiss American scientist Willy Burgdorfer is acclaimed for identifying the spirochetal bacteria which causes Lyme disease. Indeed, the pathogen bears his name, Borrelia burgdorferi. Yet as the author discloses through filmed interviews and archival reviews, there were other aspects to Willy’s research. Employed by the US government and headquartered at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Burgdorfer was enmeshed in biological warfare projects.  Ms. Newby discusses his work in Switzerland for the American government which led to the identification of a new strain of Ricketttsia, a pathogen if crossed with Borrelia might well complicate treatment and thus be a candidate for biowarfare.  Interviews by Ms. Newby with American researchers on the topic of the Rickettsia, dubbed the Swiss agent by Dr. Burgdorfer, did not shed any light on the mystery pathogen whose existence seems to be buried in the past.

Ms. Newby’s discovery of tick drops and the experimental release of ticks document ongoing biowarfare research and questions the consequences if studies go awry. The prevalence of new diseases and the expansion of tick territories are examined in the context of now revealed government studies.

Ultimately, whatever mix of causes is responsible for the Lyme and other tick-borne diseases epidemic in the US, the solutions, as strongly stated by Kris Newby, lie with better science, advanced research and proper funding.

Click here for YouTube video of Under Our Skin, Director, Andy Abrams and Kris Newby discussing her new book.

Click here to purchase Bitten on amazon.com

Click here for other purchasing options of Bitten on HarperCollins.com

Ironically, Wisconsin’s most experienced Lyme/MSIDS doctor told me he treated patients in the 70’s before it had a name.  He called it a Rickettsial-type disease.  He might have been closer to the mark than he knew.


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