Iranian state media suggested on Wednesday that the United States is deliberately spreading Lyme disease, citing a U.S. House of Representatives amendment requesting an investigation on “weaponized” ticks.
An article for the state propaganda outlet PressTV, titled “Is US Weaponizing of Ticks Behind Lyme Disease Spread?,” notes that an amendment was added to the 2020 Defense Authorization bill demanding the Pentagon’s inspector general investigate if any such experiments were carried out between 1950 and 1975.
The amendment, proposed by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), orders the Pentagon’s inspector general to “conduct a review of whether the Department of Defense experimented with ticks and other insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975.”
Smith said the amendment was inspired by “a number of books and articles suggesting that significant research had been done at US government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland, and Plum Island, New York, to turn ticks and other insects into bioweapons.”
“If true, what were the parameters of the program? Who ordered it?” Smith said during a debate for the amendment. “Was there any accidental release anywhere or at any time of any of the diseased ticks?”
“With Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases exploding in the United States—with an estimated 300,000 to 437,000 new cases diagnosed each year and 10-20 percent of all patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease—Americans have a right to know whether any of this is true,” he argued. “And have these experiments caused Lyme disease and another tick-borne disease to mutate and to spread?”
If the Inspector General does find evidence of such experiments, the amendment states that he then must answer “whether any ticks or insects used in such experiments were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design.”
PressTV goes on to cite book released this year, entitled Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons, that claims “U.S .military researchers implanted diseases into insects to study the potential of biological weapons in the decades after World War ll.”
The book, written by Stanford University science writer Kris Newby, also “suggests a possible relationship between the experiments and the spread of Lyme disease, an infectious disease spread by ticks causing fever, headaches, and fatigue.”
Iranian leadership and state media rarely miss an opportunity to blame the United States for various social ills. In May, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused President Donald Trump of “genocidal taunts” against the Iranian people.
“Iranians have stood tall for millennia while aggressors all gone,” he wrote on Twitter. “Economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran.'”