Lyme Disease High-Risk Areas Revealed in New Map, Live Science

Lyme Disease High-Risk Areas Revealed in New Map

By Remy Melina 07 February 2012

An extensive field study has identified areas of the U.S. where people have the highest risk of contracting Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention(CDC).

The study found that high infection risk is mainly confined to the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest regions of the country.

Lyme disease is one of the most rapidly emerging infectious diseases in North America, and there were nearly 30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. in 2009, according to the CDC. People are infected with bacteria that cause Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected deer tick.

«A better understanding of where Lyme disease is likely to be endemic is a significant factor in improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment,» study researcher Maria A. Diuk-Wasser, of the Yale School of Public Health, said in a statement. «People need to know where to take precautions to avoid tick bites.»

Helping Make the Right Diagnosis

The public can use the map to see whether they have been to high risk areas, and to learn whether areas they are preparing to visit have has been identified as having a high infection risk, and so take the proper precautions.

The new findings will also be beneficial to doctors attempting to diagnose — or rule out — Lyme disease in their patients, by providing health officials with critical information on actual local risk, according to the researchers.

«Doctors may be less likely to suspect and test for Lyme disease if they are unaware a patient was in a risky area and, conversely, they may act too aggressively and prescribe unneeded and potentially dangerous treatments if they incorrectly believe their patient was exposed to the pathogen,» Diuk-Wasser said.

The study is published in the February issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Tick Hunters

To collect data for the study, scientists studied 304 sites from Maine to Florida, and across the Midwest, between 2004 and 2007. At each location, the «tick hunters» combed for Lyme disease-carrying ticks called black legged ticks with a square of light-colored corduroy cloth.

The findings showed a clearly heightened risk of Lyme disease in large parts of the Northeast, from Maine going as far south as Maryland and northern Virginia.

The researchers also identified a separate and distinct Lyme disease risk region in the upper Midwest that includes most of Wisconsin, a large area in northern Minnesota, and a sliver of northern Illinois.

The researchers noted that the study did not examine risk in the West, where Lyme disease is believed to be confined to areas along the Pacific Coast, and where a different tick species, known as the western blacklegged tick, carries the bacteria.

A study of infected tick populations is a better predictor of an area’s Lyme disease risk than reports of human infections, according to the researchers. They said that using human cases to determine areas of risk can be misleading due to the high level of «underreporting and misdiagnosis» of the disease.

The study also found that infected ticks may colonize a region long before they infect a person with Lyme disease, which means risk can be significant even without a confirmed case.

Lyme Cases in the South

The South was rated as having a low infection risk, according to the survey findings.

«There has been a lot of discussion of whether Lyme disease exists outside of the Northeast and the upper Midwest, but our sampling of tick populations at hundreds of sites suggests that any diagnosis of Lyme disease in most of the South should be put in serious doubt, unless it involves someone who has traveled to an area where the disease is common,» Diuk-Wasser said.

Pass it on: High Lyme disease infection risk is mainly confined to the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest regions of the U.S., while the South has a low infection risk.

Follow Remy Melina on Twitter @remymelina, and follow MyHealthNewsDaily @MyHealth_MHND. Like us on Facebook.

CDC keeps secret its mishaps with deadly germs

The CDC’s facilities are among a small group of biolab operators that have the worst regulatory histories in the country, receiving repeated sanctions under federal regulations.

A CDC microbiologist wears an air-tight, full-body pressurized suit to work with dangerous viruses in one of the agency’s biosafety level 4 labs. (Photo: CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has faced congressional hearings and secret government sanctions over its sloppy lab safety practices, is keeping secret large swaths of information about dozens of recent incidents involving some of the world’s most dangerous bacteria and viruses.

CDC scientists apparently lost a box of deadly and highly-regulated influenza specimens and experienced multiple potential exposures involving viruses and bacteria, according to heavily-redacted laboratory incident reports obtained by USA TODAY. Several reports involve failures of safety equipment. In one, a scientist wearing full-body spacesuit-like gear to protect against lethal, often untreatable viruses like Ebola, had their purified air hose suddenly disconnect — “again” — in one the world’s most advanced biosafety level 4 labs.

After taking nearly two years to release laboratory incident reports requested by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act, the CDC blacked out many details including the types of viruses and bacteria involved in the mishaps and often the entire descriptions of what happened. In several cases, clues about the seriousness of incidents is revealed because CDC staff failed to consistently black out the same words repeated throughout a string of emails.

The CDC would not answer USA TODAY’s questions about specific incidents, which occurred at the agency’s laboratory facilities in Atlanta and Fort Collins, Colo., during 2013 through early 2015.

“None of the incidents described in these documents resulted in reported illness among CDC staff or the public,” the CDC said in a brief emailed statement. Where incidents involved “inventory discrepancies,” the agency said generally the problems were addressed without posing a risk to anybody. The CDC said incident reports cover a time period before the Atlanta-based agency created a new lab-safety office in the wake of three high-profile incidents during 2014 with anthrax, Ebola and a deadly strain of bird flu.

USA TODAY’s “Biolabs in Your Backyard” investigation has revealed hundreds of safety incidents at public and private research facilities nationwide and highlighted how many university, government and private labs have fought to keep records secret about incidents and regulatory sanctions. The USA TODAY investigation also exposed that more than 100 labs working with potential bioterror pathogens have faced secret federal sanctions for safety violations, yet regulators allowed them to keep experimenting while failing inspections, sometimes for years.

USA TODAY also revealed details about the operations and safety records of more than 200 high-containment labs across the nation, facilities whose identities have eluded even the Government Accountability Office.

In an effort to determine the extent of the CDC’s lab-safety problems, USA TODAY filed a request on Jan. 6, 2015 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking copies of lab incident reports for the previous two years .

But the 503 pages of records the CDC released in many cases look like Swiss cheese when an incident involves any pathogen that is on a federal list of potential bioterror pathogens, called “select agents.” They include pathogens such as those that cause anthrax, Ebola, plague or certain avian or reconstructed flu virus strains.

The CDC cites a 2002 bioterrorism law to justify its redactions. That law allows withholding from the public certain records filed with regulators or information containing specific “safeguard and security measures.”

However, in many cases, the CDC blacked-out information from lab incident reports that the agency often promotes when touting its capabilities and accomplishments on its website or in scientific journals, such as the fact that the CDC operates biosafety level 4 labs, the highest safety level, or that it studies specific organisms like the Ebola virus.

The CDC said it stands by its redactions.

The effort to keep details secret comes despite a 2015 White House memo to federal agencies calling for greater transparency in releasing information about research and incidents involving select agent pathogens. White House experts noted that withholding information often «has negligible security value» and that transparency can help improve public trust.

The CDC completely withheld 36 pages of lab incident records. In several other reports, the CDC redacted every word about what happened. In an August 2014 email with a subject line of “Lab Incident,” CDC blacked out the name and title of the writer. The author started the note: «When I came in this morning.” Then the agency has blacked out about 10 lines of text, citing the bioterrorism law. The agency, however, did disclose the writer’s final sentence: “Please let me know if you have any questions.”

The CDC also redacted every word in a lab accident report from December 2013 that apparently involved a dangerous strain of influenza virus. Several CDC staff copied on the email are people who were involved in the agency’s controversial work in 2005 using reverse genetics to reconstruct the 1918 flu pandemic virus, which had killed as many as 50 million people worldwide. The only types of flu designated as select agents, and potentially covered by the bioterrorism law are specimens of the 1918 influenza virus and certain deadly strains of avian influenza. The CDC did not answer USA TODAY’s questions about what pathogen was involved or whether anyone was treated for potential exposure.

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Colonies of anthrax bacteria. (Photo: CDC)

Some records contain more clues than others about what went wrong.

  • “The air hose connector on my suit came off while I was working in [redacted] again,” a CDC scientist wrote in a May 2013 email to other agency staff, who other records show have a history of being part of the agency’s Viral Special Pathogens Branch, which works with deadly viruses like Ebola. The scientist wrote that a colleague helped them “get out safely, reattaching my hose as best he could … I live to work another day!” The CDC sought to conceal that the incident occurred in a biosafety level 4 lab, blacking out a checkbox from the top of the form that corresponds to a BSL-4 lab on the agency’s main Atlanta campus. But it failed to redact the same information in some other reports. The form says the incident occurred while the scientist was working with mice infected with a virus, but the CDC blacked out the name of the virus. The CDC sent out a mass email to about 40 lab workers the same day reminding them to make sure that their protective suits are in working order and to “be sure to pay attention to your breathing air hose” and ensure that connections are tight, the records show.
  • In a February 2015 string of emails that involves what employment records show are multiple members of CDC’s influenza division, the agency cited the bioterrorism law in blacking out the entire subject line. In one email, the first word in the short subject line remained. It says: “Missing” and is followed by a short redaction that is likely the name of a pathogen. The emails discuss whether a report will need to be filed with federal select agent lab regulators and says: “I will need a detailed summary of the search for this box from everyone involved in the search.” The only types of influenza viruses that would require reporting to select agent regulators are deadly strains of avian influenza and specimens of the resurrected 1918 flu virus. The CDC wouldn’t answer any of USA TODAY’s questions about what was in the missing box of pathogens or whether it was ever found.
  • The missing box may not be the only influenza specimens the CDC couldn’t account for. In another email string from January 2015, the subject line says: “Report Additional Inventory Discrepancies — Flu Division.” However in one of the emails, the CDC blacked out the words “Inventory Discrepancies” by citing the bioterrorism law.
  • There was a “possible biological exposure” at a CDC lab in Fort Collins, Colo., in May 2013, according to a printout from the agency’s Medgate tracking system. However the CDC blacked out all words contained in the “Long Description (What Happened)” and “Five Why Analysis” fields, citing the bioterrorism law. According to limited information released on the form, the primary source of the injury was “Insects arachnids (spiders, ticks, scorpions etc.)” and the secondary source was “Select Agent.” The field for findings says only: “The only re-training that might be necessary is to remind staff to transport tubes vertically.” The CDC wouldn’t answer questions about what happened in the incident or what pathogen was involved.
  • In August 2014, a CDC lab worker suffered a “potential finger puncture from a glass capillary containing” a type of select agent pathogen that has been blacked out by the CDC. “I could not find a hole in my glove. I immediately washed my hands,” the printout from an electronic reporting system says. The full description of what happened in the incident was not viewable in the electronic form when the CDC printed the page it released. Elsewhere on the form, however, limited information provides intriguing clues. One part of the form discloses: “To evaluate if vial contained vaccinia. To evaluate the condition of Vaccinia. To understand how stable” — and the rest is redacted citing the bioterrorism law. The phrase indicates the scientist was evaluating the stability of a pathogen specimen over time. Vaccinia is a type of virus used in vaccines that protect against the smallpox virus, which killed three out of every 10 people it infected before being eradicated. While vaccinia is not a select agent, the smallpox virus is. In July 2014, a few weeks before this lab incident, long-forgotten vials of vaccinia and smallpox viruses dating back to 1946-1964 were discovered in a cold-storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and some of the vials were sent to CDC for evaluation. The CDC would not answer USA TODAY’s questions about whether the specimens in lab incident came from the discovery of forgotten vials at the NIH in July 2014 or whether the redacted pathogen name was the smallpox virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is based in Atlanta, has come under scrutiny because of a series of lab safety incidents. (Photo: Jessica McGowan, Getty Images)

In addition to being a lab operator, the CDC co-runs the Federal Select Agent Program that inspects and regulates government, university, military and private labs that works with these regulated viruses, bacteria and toxins. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is CDC’s partner in the regulatory program.

After winning a Freedom of Information Act appeal last year, USA TODAY revealed that the CDC is among a small group of biolab operators nationwide that have the worst regulatory histories in the country, receiving repeated sanctions under secretive federal regulations. The CDC had previously cited the 2002 bioterrorism law to keep secret the names of government, public and private labs — including its own — that have been suspended or that have faced enforcement actions for violating safety and security regulations in their work with potential bioterror pathogens.

In CDC’s recent document release, when incidents involved pathogens not on the select agent list, more details were sometimes available.

In April 2014, a mangled box filled with biological samples — at least one of them broken — arrived without any labels that it contained infectious materials by regular United Parcel Service delivery to the desk of a CDC worker, rather than to a laboratory, according to a 40-page email string about the incident.

The box, from the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, had been shipped in a re-used box without appropriate packing materials and arrived with a “gaping hole” in one corner, according to the CDC emails. Inside the box were specimens of bacteria that cause potentially life-threatening Typhoid fever.

“I’ve learned that there are indeed some tubes of Salmonella Typhi in this box, not sure if any are broken (don’t really want us to get our hands in the box we already know is contaminated and has broken glass in it to find out),” wrote Jean Whichard, team leader of the CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Team, in an email to other CDC staff investigating the risks posed by the shipment.

In the end, the CDC determined that only one vial broke and it contained Salmonella Newport bacteria, which has been associated with food-borne illness outbreaks. At least two CDC workers who handled the package underwent occupational health evaluations. In a later email, Whichard wrote “luckily no tubes flew out of the breach in the box during shipment, and I just gingerly lifted each tube out with forceps to confirm that none of the Typhi tubes broke.”

Officials at the North Carolina lab said they were unable to provide comment because of the recent holidays.

To read the records released by the CDC in response to USA TODAY’s January 2015 Freedom of Information Act request, go to: CDC incident reports. Read full coverage of USA TODAY’s investigation of safety issues at the CDC and other public and private lab operators:

Follow USA TODAY investigative reporter Alison Young on Twitter: @alisonannyoung

CDC lacked key lab incident reporting policy despite scrutiny, promises

REVEALED: The long-suppressed official report on US biowarfare in North Korea

By Jeffrey S. Kaye

Published by INSURGE intelligence , a crowdfunded journalism platform for people and planet

Written largely by the most prestigious British scientist of his day, this official report, containing hundreds of pages of evidence about the use of US biological weapons during the Korean War, was effectively suppressed upon its original release in 1952.

Courtesy of researcher Jeffrey Kaye, INSURGE now publishes the report in text-searchable format for the first time for the general public, with an exclusive, in-depth analysis of its damning findings and implications.

The report provides compelling evidence of systematic violation of the laws of war against North Korea through the deployment of biological weapons — a critical context that is essential for anyone to understand the dynamics of current regional tensions, and what might be done about them.

Back in the early 1950s, the U.S. conducted a furious bombing campaign during the Korean War, dropping hundreds of thousands of tons of ordnance, much of it napalm, on North Korea. The bombardment, worse than any country had received up to that point, excepting the effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wiped out nearly every city in North Korea, contributing to well over a million civilian deaths. Because of the relentless bombing, the people were reduced to living in tunnels. Even the normally bellicose Gen. MacArthur claimed to find the devastation wreaked by the U.S. to be sickening.[1]

Most controversially, both North Korea and China alleged that by early 1952, the U.S. was using biological or germ warfare weapons against both North Korea and China. The U.S. government has strenuously denied this.

Nevertheless, captured U.S. flyers told their North Korean and Chinese captors about the use of such weapons. Later, after the prisoners were returned to U.S. custody, counterintelligence experts and psychiatrists interrogated them. They were told under the threat of court martial to renounce their confessions about germ warfare. They all did so.

The Army Criminal Investigative Division officer in charge of interrogating returning prisoners, including airmen who confessed to use of biological weaponry on North Korea and China, was Army counter-intelligence specialist, Col. Boris Pash. Pash had previously been in charge of security for the most sensitive classified operations of the U.S. government in World War II. He was in charge of security at the Manhattan Project’s Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. (The Manhattan Project was the U.S. crash program to develop the atomic bomb.)

In the immediate aftermath of the war, military intelligence officer Pash led the Alsos Mission, which searched for Nazi and Italian nuclear scientists and fissionable materials, as well as gathering “intelligence about any enemy scientific research applicable to his military effort,” including biological and chemical weapons. Later, Pash worked for the CIA, and in the 1970s was called before Congressional investigators concerning his alleged participation in Agency assassinations.[2]

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To convince the world of the truth of their claim the U.S. had dropped biological weapons on their countries, and after turning down the suggestion that the International Red Cross look into the charges, the North Koreans and Chinese sponsored an investigating commission. Using the auspices of the World Peace Council, they gathered together a number of scientists from around the world, most of whom were sympathetic to either the Left or the peace movement. Most surprisingly, this commission, which came to be known as the International Scientific Commission, or ISC, was headed by one of the foremost British scientists of his time, Joseph Needham.

The ISC included scientists from a number of countries, including Sweden, France, Italy, and Brazil. The Soviet Union representative, Dr. N. N. Zhukov-Verezhnikov had been the chief medical expert at the Khabarovsk Trial of the Unit 731 Japanese officers accused of participating in bacteriological (aka biological, or germ) warfare before and during World War II, as well as conducting hideous experiments on prisoners to further that aim. Zhukov-Verezhnikov went on to write scientific articles through the 1970s.

Needham himself, though pilloried in the Western press for his opinions on the controversy of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War, remained a highly lauded scientist for years after the ISC report. He was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1971. In 1992, the Queen conferred on him the Companionship of Honour.[3]

The ISC travelled to China and North Korea in the summer of 1952 and by September produced the “Report of International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China,” which corroborated the Chinese and North Korean claims that the U.S. had used biological weapons in an experimental fashion on civilian populations.

The summary report was only some 60 pages long, but the ISC included over 600 pages of documentary material comprising statements from witnesses, including airmen involved in dropping the weaponry, as well as captured enemy agents; reports from doctors; journal articles from the United States; autopsy reports and lab tests; and photos and other materials. Most of this documentary material has been all but inaccessible for decades, with only a handful of copies of the ISC report in a few scattered libraries in the United States.

The report concluded that the U.S. had used a number of biological weapons, including use of anthrax, plague, and cholera, disseminated by over a dozen of different devices or methods, including spraying, porcelain bombs, self-destroying paper containers with a paper parachute, and leaflet bombs, among others.

This article is not meant to examine the full range of opinions or evidence about whether or not the U.S. used biological weapons in the Korean War. It is instead an attempt to publish essential documentation of such claims, documentation that has effectively been withheld from the American people, and the West in general, for decades.

The charges of U.S. use of biological warfare during the Korean War have long been the subject of intense controversy. The reliance, in part, on testimony from U.S. prisoners of war led to U.S. charges of “brainwashing.” These charges later became the basis of a cover story for covert CIA experimentation into use of use of drugs and other forms of coercive interrogation and torture that became the basis for its 1963 KUBARK manual on interrogation, and much later, a powerful influence on the CIA’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program.

Establishment Cold War scholars have been quick to debunk the ISC report. The most notable attempts in recent years included the publication of purported letters written by officials of the Soviet Union discussing the lack of evidence of U.S. biological warfare, and the decision to manufacture such evidence to fool the West.[4] Subsequently, a 1997 memoir by Wu Zhili, the former director of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Health Division, was published declaring the purported U.S. use of bacteriological agents in the Korean War was really “a false alarm.” [5]

As two Canadian scholars who spent years researching the Chinese-North Korean claims of biological warfare have noted, if these documents were to be true, then it would go against the bulk of archival evidence, including interviews with pertinent witnesses in both the United States and China.[6] Some of this archival evidence is quite recent, including the CIA declassification of a good deal of formerly top secret daily signal intelligence cables from the Korean War.[7]

The cables dealing with North Korean claims of biological warfare, which claims were dismissed by U.S. officials, prove that the North Koreans were serious about the belief they were being attacked by germ weapons, and that they were concerned that reports from the field not be falsified by assiduous if uninformed people sending in reports from the field. There is no evidence that North Korean officials or personnel ever engaged in falsification of evidence of biological warfare.

There also is plenty of archival evidence to be found in the suppressed Needham report materials. For instance, the Wu Zhili document claims, “‘for the entire year [1952–1953] no sick patient or deceased person was found to have anything to do with bacteriological warfare.”

But the ISC report documents a number of such deaths, including deaths from inhalational anthrax, a very rare disease almost completely unknown in China at that time. Appendix AA of the report, “Report on the Occurrence of Respiratory Anthrax and Haemorrhagic Anthrax Meningitis following the Intrusion of U.S. Military Planes over Northeast China” details the presence of anthrax by autopsy and laboratory examination in five deaths during March-April 1952. According to U.S. experts who have looked at the details of this report, the conclusions regarding death from inhalational anthrax could not have been faked[8].

Until recently, there has been no effort to make the original Needham materials available for other scholars or the public to assess for themselves the truth or falsity of their analysis. Last year, scholar Milton Leitenberg uploaded a copy of the ISC report to Scribd, but it is a very rough scan, and not searchable, or easy to use for the public. The release was not advertised and the public in particular remains ignorant of its findings.

The version of the ISC report published here utilized state-of-the-art book scanning equipment and is text searchable.

Censorship of Unit 731-U.S. Collaboration on Biological Warfare Data

One important part of the ISC report guaranteed its suppression in the United States after its initial publication. The report discussed the activities of Imperial Japan’s biological warfare detachment, Unit 731, and the U.S. interest in its activities.

Back in 1952, collaboration between the U.S. and Japanese war criminals using biological weapons was top secret, and totally denied by the U.S.

But today, even U.S. historians accept that a deal was made between the U.S. and members of Unit 731 and associated portions of the Japanese military that had in fact been experimenting on the use of biological weapons since the mid-1930s, experimentation that included use of human vivisection and barbaric torture of thousands of human beings, most of whom were disposed of in crematoria. In addition, as described in the book chapter by Bernd Martin noted in the bibliography, there was collaboration between the Japanese and the Nazi regime on these issues.

The U.S. collaboration with Japanese war criminals of Unit 731 was formally admitted in 1999 by the U.S. government, though the documentation for this confession wasn’t published until nearly 20 years later.[9]

It is a matter of historical record now that the U.S. government granted amnesty to Japan’s chief at Unit 731, doctor/General Shiro Ishii and his accomplices. The amnesty was kept top secret for decades, until revealed by journalist John Powell in a landmark article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in October 1981.

What came to be known as the Needham report, due to the fact the ISC was headed by the prestigious British scientist, came under immediate fire upon release. The report still remains a flashpoint for scholars. A 2001 article by the UK’s Historical Association detailed how UN and UK government officials collaborated in attempts to debunk the ISC findings. The UK Foreign Office released memoranda saying that claims of Japanese bacteriological warfare, going back to 1941, were “officially ‘not proven.’” (See article by Tom Buchanan in Bibliography.)

The sensitivity of the material uncovered by the ISC touched two areas of covert US government research. First was the US government’s own plans to research and possibly implement germ warfare. The second issue concerned the confessions of U.S. flyers as to how they were briefed and implemented trial runs of biological warfare during the Korean War.

China published the confessions of 19 U.S. airmen, but those confessions are also notoriously difficult to obtain. The ISC report published herein does include some of those “confessions,” and the public can be allowed to decide for themselves how authentic or genuine they are.

The U.S. claimed that the flyers were tortured, and the CIA promoted the idea they were “brainwashed” by diabolical methods, causing a scare about “commie” mind control programs and “menticide,” which they used to justify the expenditure of millions of dollars for U.S. mind control programs during the 1950s-1970s.

The programs, codenamed Bluebird, Artichoke, and MKULTRA, among others, used experiments on unwitting civilians, as well as soldiers undergoing supposed anti-torture training at the military’s SERE schools. I have shown via public records that CIA scientists continued to use experiments on “stress” at SERE schools after 9/11, and believe such research included experiments on CIA and/or DoD held detainees. That such research did take place can be inferred from the release in November 2011 of a new set of guidelines concerning DoD research. This newest version of a standard instruction (DoD Directive 3216.02) contained for the first time a specific prohibition against research done on detainees. (See section 7c.)

I believe a strong case can be made that while coercive methods, primarily isolation, was used on the U.S. prisoners of war who later confessed, that their confessions were primarily true. The idea that only false confessions result from torture is in fact false itself. While false confessions can result from torture (as well as less onerous methods, such as the Reid Technique, used by police departments throughout the United States today), actual confessions can also sometimes occur. I have first-hand experience working with torture survivors to know that is true.

Even so, it is a fact that all the POWs who confessed use of germ warfare later recanted that upon return to the United States. But the terms of their recantations are suspect. The recantations were made under threat of courts-martial, and after interrogations by U.S. counterintelligence agents and psychiatrists. The archival evidence of the flyers debriefings have been destroyed or lost due to fire (according to the government). Meanwhile at least one scientist working at Ft. Detrick at the time admitted to German documentary investigators before he died that the U.S. had indeed been involved in germ warfare in Korea. (See the documentary video, “ Code Name: Artichoke.”[10])

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An “actual investigation… could do us psychological as well as military damage”

The charges of U.S. use of biological weapons during the Korean War are even more incendiary than the now-proven claims the U.S. amnestied Japanese military doctors and others working on biological weapons who experimented on human subjects, and ultimately killed thousands in operational uses of those weapons against China during the Sino-Japanese portion of World War Two. The amnesty was the price paid for U.S. military and intelligence researchers to get access to the trove of research, much of it via fatal human experiments, the Japanese had developed over years of studying and developing weapons for biological warfare.

During the Korean War, the U.S. strenuously denied charges of use of germ weapons and demanded an international investigation through the United Nations. The Chinese and North Koreans derided such offers, as it was United Nations-sanctioned forces that were opposing them in war and bombing their cities. But behind the scenes, the U.S. government initiated a campaign to impugn the ISC report, something they found difficult, as it turned out, according to a CIA-released document I revealed in December 2013. The document also showed the U.S. considered the call for a UN investigation to be mere propaganda.[11]

At a high-level meeting of intelligence and government officials on July 6, 1953, U.S. authorities admitted behind closed doors that the U.S. was not serious about conducting any investigation into such charges, despite what the government said publicly.

According to this document, the reason the U.S. didn’t want any investigation was because an “actual investigation” would reveal military operations, “which, if revealed, could do us psychological as well as military damage.” A “memorandum from the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) detailing this meeting specifically stated as an example of what could be revealed “8th Army preparations or operations (e.g. chemical warfare).”[12]

Charges of chemical warfare by the Americans during the Korean War were part of a report by a Communist-influenced attorneys’ organization visiting Korea, and their findings were dismissed as propaganda by U.S. authorities and commentators. But the PSB memo suggests perhaps they were right.

Not long after I published the PSB document and accompanying article, scholar Stephen Endicott wrote to remind me that he and his associate Edward Hagerman, co-authors of the 1998 book, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea (see bibliography), had found material themselves that indicated U.S. calls for “international inspection to counter the Chinese and North Korean charges… was less than candid.”

Endicott and Hagerman found that U.S. Far East Commander, Gen. Matthew Ridgway, had “secretly given permission to deny potential Red Cross inspectors ‘access to any specific sources of information.’” In addition, they documented a State Department memo dated June 27, 1952 wherein the Department of Defense notified that it was “impossible” for the UN ambassador at the time to state that the U.S. did not intend to use “bacteriological warfare — even in Korea.” (p.192, Endicott and Hagerman)

The Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial

The ISC report also references the December 1949 war crimes trial held by the USSR in Khabarovsk, not far from the Chinese border. The trial of Japanese war criminals associated with Units 731, 100 and other biological warfare divisions followed upon a near black-out of such issues at the larger Toyko war crimes trials held by the Allies a few years before.

At the time of the Khabarovsk trial, U.S. media and government officials either ignored the proceedings, or denounced them as yet another Soviet “show trial.” The Soviets for their part published the proceedings and distributed them widely, including in English. Copies of this report are easier to find for purchase used, though expensive, on the Internet. Additionally, in the last few years Google made a copy of the former Soviet volume available online (see Bibliography). But no scholarly edition has ever been published.

Even so, U.S. historians have been forced over the years to accept the findings of the Khabarovsk court, though the general population and media accounts remain mostly ignorant such a trial ever took place. The fact the Soviets also documented the use of Japanese biological experiments on U.S. POWs was highly controversial, denied by the U.S. for decades, was a quite contentious issue in the 1980s-1990s. While a National Archives-linked historian has quietly determined such experiments did in fact take place, the issue has quietly fallen off the country’s radar. (See L. G. Goetz in bibliography.)

The relevancy of these issues is of course the ongoing propaganda war between the United States and North Korea, as well as Pentagon reallocation of resources to the Asian theater for a possible future war against China. But it is the clear threat of a nuclear exchange between North Korea and the United States that calls for clarity around the issues that have led to the mistrust between the two countries. Such clarity demands the release of all information that would help the U.S. populace understand the North Korean point of view. Such understanding, and acting upon such knowledge, may be all that separates us from a catastrophic war that could potentially kill millions of people.

The history behind the Korean War, and U.S. military and covert actions concerning China, Japan, and Korea, are a matter of near-total ignorance in the U.S. population. The charges of “brainwashing” of U.S. POWs, in an ongoing effort to hide evidence of U.S. biological warfare experiments and trials, also has become entwined in the propaganda used to explain the U.S. post-9/11 torture and interrogation program, and alibi past crimes by the CIA and Department of Defense for years of illegal mind control programs practiced as part of MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, ARTICHOKE, and other programs.

I hope that readers will feel free to disseminate this article without any copyright reservations, as well as the ISC report itself, an orphaned document from the Cold War.

Jeffrey Kaye is a retired psychologist who has worked professionally with torture victims and asylum applicants. Active in the anti-torture movement since 2006, he has his own blog, Invictus , previously wrote regularly for Firedoglake’s The Dissenter , as well as at The Guardian, Truthout, Alternet, and The Public Record. He is the author of Cover-Up at Guantanamo , a new book examining declassified files on treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo detention camp.

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Daniel Barenblatt , A Plague Upon Humanity: The Secret Genocide of Axis Japan’s Germ Warfare Operation, HarperPerennial, 2005

Tom Buchanan, “The Courage of Galileo: Joseph Needham and the ‘Germ Warfare’ Allegations in the Korean War,” The Historical Association, Blackwell Publishers, 2001

Dave Chaddock, This Must Be the Place: How the U.S. Waged Germ Warfare in the Korean War and Denied It Ever Since, Bennett and Hastings Publishers, 2013

Stephen Endicott & Edward Hagerman, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea, Indiana University Press, 1998

Stephen Endicott & Edward Hagerman, “Twelve Newly Released Soviet-era `Documents’ and allegations of U. S. germ warfare during the Korean War,” online publication, 1998, URL:

Stephen Endicott & Edward Hagerman, “False Alarm? ‘The Bacteriological War of 1952’: Comment on Director Wu Zhili’s Essay,” online publication, June 1, 2016, URL: [accessed May 14, 2017]

Sheldon H. Harris, Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932–45, and the American Cover-up, rev. ed., Routledge Press, 2002

Linda Goetz Holmes, Guests of the Emperor: The Secret History of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp, Naval Institute Press, June 2010.

Jeffrey Kaye, “CIA Document Suggests U.S. Lied About Biological, Chemical Weapon Use in the Korean War,” Shadowproof, Dec. 10, 2013, URL: (accessed February 21, 2018)

Materials on the Trial of Former Servicemen of the Japanese Army Charged With Manufacturing Bacteriological Weapons [Testimony and Exhibits from the Khabarovsk War Crimes Trial], Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1950, published as free e-book at Google Books, URL: [accessed May 14, 2017]

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Milton Leitenberg, “China’s False Allegations of the Use of Biological Weapons by the United States during the Korean War,” CWIHP Working Paper #78
March 2016, URL: [accessed May 14, 2017]

Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, Oxford Univ. Press, 2010

Bernd Martin, “Japanese-German collaboration in the development of bacteriological and chemical weapons and the war in China,” in Japanese-German Relations, 1895–1945: War, Diplomacy and Public Opinion (Christian W. Spang, Rolf-Harald Wippich, eds.), Routledge, 2006

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Peter Williams and David Wallace, Unit 731: The Japanese Army’s Secret of Secrets, Hodder & Stoughton, 1989 [Note: The U.S. version of this book, published by Free Press, does not include Chapter 17 on the Korean War, which is only available in the British Hodder & Stoughton version.]


[1] Robert M. Neer, Napalm: An American Biography, 2013, Belknap Press, pg. 100.

[2] “Boris Pash and Science and Technology Intelligence,” Masters of the Intelligence Art series, U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Ft. Huachuca, undated. URL: (retrieved 1/20/2018)

In regards to Pash’s association with the CIA, we don’t know when his involvement with the Agency began, but it appears to have been quite early. Watergate defendant E. Howard Hunt told Congressional investigators in 1976 Pash was involved in assassination activities for the CIA during the 1960s. See “Executive Session, Saturday, January 10, 1976, United States Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Washington, D.C.” URL: (retrieved 1/20/2018)

[3] See URL: (retrieved 1/20/18). The article drew the information from Winchester, Simon (2008), The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. New York: HarperCollins.

[4] Leitenberg, Milton. (1998). Resolution of the Korean War Biological Warfare Allegations. Critical reviews in microbiology. 24. 169–94. 10.1080/10408419891294271.

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