Journal of Degenerative Diseases - Vol 1; Number 1
Mycoplasma Experiments Conducted in Texas Prisons
My son was 10 and a half years old when he became ill on February 6, 1997. His symptoms were flu-like. Within a short time he was unable to bear weight on his knees which rendered him unable to walk. He was in a wheelchair and I was told he had a viral illness and to allow it to run its course.
I kept searching for answers which meant "doctor shopping". Please understand, it was very difficult to watch my son go from healthy to watching his muscles waste away while he was in the wheelchair. Finally, late in March he was diagnosed with human parvovirus B19. I did not know at that time that humans could contract parvo. When the doctor told me what my son had I asked that he prescribe an antibiotic because I knew from having animals that dogs and cats are given an antibiotic when they contract porvo, he stated that the standard protocol was the use of steroids, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), immunosuppressives and immunoglobulin IVIG. 5o, there was nothing to do at that time except go with the standard protocol. My son was prescribed steroids and NSAIDS.
I especially didn't like the idea ofusing steroids andI especially didn't like the idea of physicians having very little knowledge of this particular viral illness. I began to research on my own looking for answers for my son. I had to give myself a crash courses in immunology, virology, microbiology, rheumatology, hematology, etc, It was not an easy task but I know no one cared as much for my son as I did and it would be up to me to find the answer. At the same time, since he didn't fit the "perfect square of cause and effect" for human parvovirus B19, the physicians turned to my son as being the problem. I was even told by one physician if my son tested positive for human parvovirus B 29 he would not be able to diagnose it as such because my son did not fit the "perfect square of cause and effect.' My son was immediately evaluated to lay this ludicrous idea to rest, but even after being verified "sane" the doctors kept pointing at my son as the problem. In the end, my son was evaluated three times and was still not believed by some of the doctors we had seen.
I think it appropriate that I share a few of the symptoms which my son was experiencing. He suffered with severe headacbes, gastrointestinal problems, blurred vision, throat spasms, ringworms, rashes that would come and go, vomiting, knee pain episodes, esophagus spasms, chest pain, fevers that would come and go, incontinence, ex treme fatigue, dental problems etc. This is not a complete list, but you can imagine watching a child of your own going through such symptoms and no physician able xplain why this was happening and unable to stop them.
When I was told more or less, that the physicians were going to wait until he fit the "perfect square of cause and effect" for juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis ORA) I began searching everything I could find regarding arthritis. I came across an article written by Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown et al which described an infectious etiology known as mycoplasma. Dr. Brown treated his Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients with tetracycline and/or tetracycline derivatives. Dr. Brown's background was impressive. He worked with Dr. Sabin who was one of the developers of the polio vaccine. He was the first to identify and culture mycoplasma from mice and this was work published in 1939. Mycoplasma were also called L-forms, virus-like forms and PPLO (pleuropneumonia-likeforms). Mycoplasmas are bacteria particles which lack a cell-wall. They seem to complement each other.
Dr. Brown was achieving remission in cases of RA with his long-term antibiotic treatment.. He was also achieving remission in scleroderma which had previously been a death sentence. The scientific community urned their backs on Brown for many reasons and most political. Dr. Brown did not endorse blanket use of steroids which provided relief but not a cure and he paid for that. He also didn't endorse the blanket use gold shots or immuno-supressives because he knew they caused more damage. Dr. Brown knew mycoplasmas were the cause of connective tissue diseases, but no one would listen. He continued to treat patients for 50 yeas until the day he died in 1989. It has been his former patients that have continued to carry on his treatment protocol for connective tissue diseases. One of them is Pat Ganger who is President of The Road Back Foundation. She funded research using Dr. Brown's protocol and the most recent one deals with curing (CNN report used the word "cure") 4 out of 6 patients diagnosed with scleroderma. I am proud to call her my friend.
I continually provided all of my research to my son's pediatrician. It was November, 1997 when CNN reported a study by Dr. James O'Dell at the University of Nebraska. Dr. O'Dell found significant relief in R.A. patients using an acne drug called minocycline-a tetracycline derivative. I called my son's pediatrician and left a message for him concerning the CNN report and he prescribed the minocycline. Within three short days the constant headache which my son had from the beginning of his illness was going away. He had missed half of his fifth grade year and nearly all of the sixth grade from this virus. The last two months of his sixth grade year he was able to attend full time. It was remarkable how this acne drug seemed to make such a difference in a viral illness. However, I knew that an antibiotic could not make a difference in a virus, only bacteria; therefore, I knew I was on the right track by convincing the doctor to prescribe the acne drug for my son. Mycoplasma had to be involved for my son to respond so dramatically to the acne drug.
I made contact with Dr Joel B. Baseman (University of Texas Science Health Center) after reading a wonderful article he and Dr Joseph Tully (National Institutes of Health ) had written concerning mycoplasma. The article stated that the use of steroids in Crohn's Disease could exacerbate the illness if mycoplasmas were present. This is what I had seen when my son was on steroids: he had became more ill. Dr. Baseman was kind enough to respond to my questions concerning mycoplasmas and was interested in the hypothesis I had developed. I asked him if it were possible for a bacteriophage to have developed from parvovirus B19 and mycoplasmas. Dr. Baseman and Dr. Tully researched this area and Dr. Baseman suggested I contact Dr. Gabe Mirkin out of Kingsington, MI, which I did.
Dr. Mirkin treats mycoplasmal infections with long-term antibiotic treatment, just as Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown did. I relayed to him my son's illness and symptoms and he stated how lucky I was to have a physician listen to my research because mycoplasmas caused JRA. I had to sit down after be made that statement, because that's what the physicians were waiting for my son to develop! Later, I found Dr. Mirkin was somthing of a celebrity. He is Larry King's physician. I subscribed to Dr. Mirkin's newsletter and he stated that tetracycline derivatives target wall-less bacteria and that is what a mycop!asma is. He also stated the normal lab test will not show the mycoplasmal infections. In other words, you may be very ill and all of the regular lab tests will be negative.
Of course when the antibiotic began working on my son I found myself without a physician. None of them wanted to see him. There was a liver function test performed which I had requested because of all the medications my son had been on. I did not have the opportunity to have it reviewed by a physician and the test results did not look right to me. I took my son off the antibiotic, thinking his liver needed a rest and within a month his symptoms returned. This was in August of 1998. He was placed back on the antibiotic and again improved. The antibiotic worked twice, not once. Since then, I have had to carry the guilt of taking my son off the medication which had been keeping him well.
It was in January. of 1998 that I met a woman named Sally Medley. A friend introduced me to her through the Huntsville Item newspaper articles from 1994. It seemed that there was a Huntsville Mystery Illness in our area. There were 28 cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease and 68 cases of Multiple Sclerosis in 1994. Five of the ALS cases lived in the same area. Sally had formed a support group after her 17 year old daughter became ill with multiple symptoms, The doctors in this case were leaning towards ALS as a diagnosis for her daughter when Sally was introduced to Drs. Garth and Nancy Nicolson and the word "myco-plasma". I was thrilled to find another person who knew about mycoplasmas. The physicians I had seen either did not know about or had limited knowledge of mycoplasmas; but here was another mother who was searching for answers for her child and her search for answers to her child's illness had led her to the same conclusion concerning mycoplasmas and the same tetracycline derivative treatmemt.
Dr Garth Nicolson, at that time, was a leading cancer researcher at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.His stepdaughter had returned from the Gulf War with an unusual illness. Dr. Nicolson began an intensive study of her symptoms and soon realized that there was a mycoplasma involved. As with Sally and I, he had set out to find answers to a family member's illness! He told Sally about the doxycycline (another tetracycline derivative) that he had treated his stepdaughter with and which had produced excellent results. Sally took Dr. Nicolson's results to an understanding physician who had agreed to prescribe the doxycycline and within eight months her daughter was well.
It was at this point that Dr. Nicolson began to experience professional problems. It seemed that even speaking about the Mycoplasma fermentans incognitus that he had found in his Gulf War Illness patients was discouraged. He had to leave the MD Anderson Cancer Center and move to California where he established The Institute for Molecular Medicine.
After spending 5 hours on my living room floor comparing scientific documents with Sally she realized the same thing that I had: the Parvovirus B 19 and mycoplasmas seemed to mirror each other! Both caused arthritis, both caused false positive results and both mimicked other illnesses. Parvovirus B19 was found in the synovial membrane and mycoplasmas were found in the synovial fluid.
I wrote to Dr. Nicolson and explained I had found. He replied promptly and made a statement that shocked me. He stated that the modified mycoplasma fernentans incognitus was for some reason found in especially high numbers in Texas Board of Corrections institutions. When I asked Sally why he was telling me this she stated Dr. Nicolson had been saying for some time that evidence suggested that the inmates at the Texas institutions had been part of a biological warfare weapons experiment as human guinea pigs, and as far back as the late 1960's and early 1970's these tests had involved mycoplasmas.
When Sally told me of the alleged experiments I asked where one could look for documentation. She stated she searched the TBOC Agendas and Minutes but her search had been limited to 1980's.
It was about this time that Dr. James Watson was seen on a frequent basis in Huntsville at TBOC prisons. It seemed unusual to me that Watson who is the head of the Human Genome Project and co-discoverer of DNA would he concerned with Texas prisons. When I enquired I was told that at the time Dr Watson had I involved with experiments with vaccines being administered to inmates. Bill Langlois, a producer of Channel 11 in Houston, has also verified that Dr. Watson was at the TBOC during that time. Sally stated she had not found anything while looking at the 1980 s records.
1 resolved to extend Sally's search and I wrote a Freedom of Information Act letter and requested the TBOC Board of Agendas and Minutes for 1965 through 1979. I asked Sally if she was interested in reviewing these documents with me and she agreed. It wasn't long before we found Texas Board of Corrections documents which revealed a long history of experiments on human prisoners involving mycoplasmas. One of the experiments involved the use of M. pneumoniae, of the most virulent type mycoplasmas. Another experiment involved the mixing of viruses and mycoplasmas! The experiment of viruses and mycoplasmas was the hypothesis in 1997 when I was trying to understand my son's dreadful mystery illness. The records also revealed that the researchers who had experimented on the inmates knew the effects of the viruses and mycoplasmas as far back as 1976 (twenty-one years later no local doctor seemed to have any idea of what was affecting my son.
I carried the documents to some of my son's physicians and asked how it could happen that a boy could become ill with a pathogen in 1997 that had been known to researchers two decades earlier and been administered to unwitting prisoners in Texas prisons? One stated "Maybe they didn't know what they were releasing. Another stated ' Now I know why we have so many rare illnesses in this area. This was not what I had wanted to hear. I wanted them to tell me there was nothing to it. Instead they had confirmed what Sally and I had begun to fear had happened, yet could not bring ourselves to accept! This pathogen had been in our community with complete lack of regard for the inmates, the guards work at the prisons, the guards' families that they came home to and the community at large. No one had been informed. We were later to learn that experiments using M. pneumoniae had lasted 10 years: The others were of an "indefinite" duration with each overlapping one another.
I needed to make the connection between the viruses and mycoplasmas, and I searched for further documents. I found two which stated that DNA viruses were believed to be able to infect mycoplasmas. It began to fit; parvovirus B19 is a DNA virus.
I also found other documents which stated that the researchers had established that ticks can carry mycoplasmas. These documents were not found searchiing under the word mycoplasmas. They were found under 'spiroplasmas'. I realized that Lyme disease of 'unknown etiology' is carried by a tick and had first appeared in 1976!
With this mind numbing evidence of human beings being used as guinea pigs for biowar researchers right in my own backyard, my next question was "How do you control a pathogen such as the mycoplasma?" My search revealed that only in a CDC level 4 lab could one achieve any sense of security...and the prisoners of Texas are not CDC level 4 labs.
My research of parvovirus B19 turned up some other strange facts. I learned, for example, of the capacity of the pathogen to present with false-positive test results for rubella, lyme disease, myalgic encephalomyelitis (aka chronic fatigue syndrome) and systemic lupus erythematosus! What factors shared by these diseases caused such a mysterious overlap of test results? My son had been diagnosed with parvovirus BI9, but he responded to the antibiotic used to treat lyme disease. This had not made sense until I learned that ticks carry mycoplasmas, It was at this point that I moved to the next stage of my search: I began to interview employees of the prison. One such employee had worked around the experimental animals which were housed at the 'Wynne Unit of the prison system. He recalled that these experimental animals had been there for years and they had been affectionately named "the Baylor dogs". The Baylor College of Medicine had been an early participant in this biowar research, but. I discovered that the University of Texas Medical Branch had taken over at some point. The employee I spoke with stated there were dogs, pigs, cats and larger animals which were experimental animals. At one point there had been word that monkeys were going to become part of their experimental animal inventory, but this had not happened while he was there. He also recalled that sometimes the pigs were in the same pen as the dogs. Somehow this struck me as a rather dangerous mix if one were at all concerned about diseases jumping species. At least 500 vials of blood were taken from the animals per week by the inmates and these samples were shipped to Baylor College of Medicine. Autopsies were also performed on prison property and when an animal died it was frozen until the Baylor College of Medicine veterinarians came to investigate the cause of death. I have also been told the check for the guard who oversees the experimental animals was issued from Baylor College of Medicine: not TBOC. The guard wears the TBOC uniform, but receives his check from Baylor College of Medicine. I don't know if this practice continues or not with UTMB.
I tried to call the experimental animal building at the Wynne Unit and I was told to call the veterinarian at UTMB. I called him and he referred me to public affairs for UTMB. I spoke with public affairs and was reassured that the inmates just "feed and take care of the dogs". When I asked if autopsies were performed on TBOC land I was told that never happened. What types of pathogens were Baylor College of Medicine/UTMB testing on the animals while researching parvovims BI9?
My study of the documents achieved under Freedom of Information showed that the TBOC mycoplasma experiments I have mentioned began 10-1-66 to 10-1-76 (with 12-19-71 to 12-10-72 included)-- for a total of ten years. The other experiment that mixed the virus and mycoplasma and was approved by the Baylor Committee Research on November 7, 1972, had an indefinite time period. There are numerous addendums to the original experiments, which link the subsequent studies back to the virus/mycoplasma experiment.
Other documents caught my eye. One was titled: "Immuno-responsiveness during Influenza Virus infection". Another was titled "Effective Challenge System for Mycoplasma pneumoniae." I couldn't help but wonder at what all the prisoners in the Texas prison system were subjected to and what consequences passed out into the community of Huntsville.
Some of the agencies involved in this September Agenda of experiments are:
Baylor College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Radioisotope Committee of the Methodist Hospital
Committee on Research involving Human Beings at the Methodist Hospital
Baylor Committee on Research Involving Human Beings
United States Public Health System
The Methodist Hospital Clinical Research Center
National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Committee for Clinical Investigation Involving Human Beings of Methodist Hospital
Bayer Company Division of Sterling Drug Inc (provided data)
Faculty Committee on Research Involving Human Beings
Texas State Department of Health (now known as Texas Department of Health)
Some of the pathogens from the September 13, 1976 Agenda are: Mycoplasma pmeumoniae (strain 10433 and strain 1428) Rhinovirus with mycoplasmal infections (M. pneumoniae) Coxsackie A21 with M pneumoniae Keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) C=Candidin PPD= Tuberculin reactivity SK-SD= Streptokinase-streptodornase Scotland strain of influenza A
Antigens included those approved by the FDA which were still experimental listed as:
Since the copy is not legible in places I listed the ones I could read. Please note the location of the experiments. It was the Ramsay Unit. On page 4 of the Care Protocol it states " the men will have already volunteered for participation in one of the earlier protocols." The earlier protocols indicate the previous M. pneumoniae experiment and the previous virus and mycoplasma combination experiment. I have no idea what "and so forth" means. M. pneumoniae was approved for use in these experiments, but it has been suggested that substitution of Mycoplasma infermentans was made. Also note that the mycoplasma was aerosolized for the experiments. This listing above is taken from the September, 1976 agenda only. There are many more experiments.
I have reviewed some of the records concerning Representative Edward Markey's 1986 report entitled "American Nuclear Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens". Mr. Markey had presented his findings during the Reagan administration and it was ignored until President Clinton created the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE) through Executive Order on January 15th, 1994. Mr. Markey's report has finally been recognized and more searching for the truth has been accomplished under this committee. The time frame of the experiments was from 1940's through 1974. It seems the same standards of rules concerning human experimentation we have today, existed then. So what is keeping these types of experiments from continuing? Honesty? Integrity? Common sense?
There was informed consent with the 'TDC' experiments but until someone has studied medicine there is no true "informed" consent. You could not possibly explain everything to an inmate whose average schooling at that time would be approximately the 6th or 7th grade level. You could not explain everything to anyone unless they were educated in that particular field. The Principal Investigator of the M. pneumioniae experiment and of the combined virus and M. pneumoniae experiment was a virologist. At that particular time (1976) very little was known concerning mycoplasmal infections and it seems strange that a virologist would be handling such. It is doubtful that the Principal Investigator had full knowledge of M. pneumoniae alone without mixing it with various other pathogens.
As Mr. Markey's 1986 report states the "... Nuremberg Code was in effect, written by the United States and the Allies in the aftermath of World War II, and established guidelines on obtaining informed consent." These scientists worded the consent forms liberally and medically which would be difficult for an inmate to understand. The inmates were only interested in being paid so they could survive inside the prisons. They were not volunteering for the advancement of medicine as some researchers claim. This claim to justly what the scientists injected into the inmates and perhaps spread through our community of Huntsville. In one of the meetings of the ACHRE a Dr. Macklin made a statement which was extremely important to this situation: "Observation in nature can be culpable if people aren't warned, if people aren't alerted, or if some intervention that might help them is not undertaken. From what has been discovered I wonder if this community is still being observed.
I tried to contact our Walker County Health Department last month and to my surprise we no longer have a Health Department! I found out the Walker County Health Department had been replaced by the University of Texas Medical Branch and the John Sealy Hospital where the inmates from the prison are taken. The date of the UTMB take over was the summer of 1994. It was in Jannary of 1994 that the first article had appeared in the Huntsville Item newspaper concerning the "Huntsville Mystery Illness." Other counties (San Jacinto and Polk) were also placed under UTMB in the summer of 1994. Thus the University of Texas Medical Board has jurisdiction over the Walker County Health Unit; the experimental animals; and the health of the Prison inmates. There must be some rational for this strange health hierarchy.?
Several more phone calls to the Centers for Disease Control and the Texas Department of Health brought no explanation, and, when I asked about the rare diseases that seemed to be cropping up all over the counties I was informed that there is no law which requires rare illnesses to be reported to anyone by anyone.
Communicable diseases are the only diseases that must be reported and the ones on that list seemed to be rather arbitrary. For example, there is no mention of human parvovirus B 19 as a communicable disease. I was also told that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials keep very secretive records concerning illnesses among the inmate population and when I called to inquire Of TDCJ about this, I was met with obvious hostility. It was apparently a very touchy subject with the top administrators. The little I did learn was contradictory. One person claimed that only 'sexually transmitted diseases' among the prisoners was reported. I asked about the incidence of AIDS, HIV, and Hepatitis C. They were not reported. Only syphilis was being reported.
When I suggested that such data should be available to the community, I was told by the TDH that the prison was not considered to be part of the community. I don't know how that can be rationalized since the guards, who have constant physical contact with inmates, come home to their families and other community citizens. Any contagious disease that the inmates have puts the guards at risk. Someone in authority knows this, but who is doing anything about the reality of what is going on?
I started off as a mother with a sick son. I found that most local doctors were apparently poorly informed about his illness, and that several of the doctors were quite dismissive of me and my efforts to find a way to help him back to health.
My search for answers has led me into a labyrinth of deceit, double dealing and double talk. Considerations such as one's right to health and to the protection of fundamental human rights does not appear to have figured in the thinking of whoever it is that is making life and death decisions affecting prison inmates, prison staff, staff families and other community members.
In Huntsville, Texas, and many nearby communities, the lives of American citizens are being filled with pain and despair. I know. I am the mother of a son who has suffered greatly from a 'rare' disease supposedly limited to dogs. Parvovirus B19 has its mysterious links with diseases that were and apparently continue to be the subject of development and testing by biowar researchers. It must be stopped. The citizens have rights that merit a proper response. That response should include:
1. The Huntsville area needs an epidemiological study which should include the inmates at the prisons. We will never know how many illnesses there are and how many people have been affected until the numbers are counted and the illnesses listed.
2. The types of animal experiments that have been performed on prison land and the laws that are supposed to regulate such experiments should be made public.
3. The current health laws concerning reportable diseases should be amended to include all of the rare and not so rare degenerative diseases that seem to be increasing so dramatically in incidence in our area. Just how many people do have PV-B19; MS; ALS; CFS; FM and, so on? How do these numbers compare with other areas of Texas?
4. The laws should be changed so that any scientist, researcher, medical doctor, administrator or other who places people in harm's way by using them as unwitting guinea pigs (and consent must be informed consent) should be charged as criminals.
Little did I think that as a mother of a son just approaching his teens, that I would find it necessary to begin my personal attempt to find my way out of this evil labyrinth. But my son's health was all the motivation I needed, and I hope that my experience and what I have found will motivate others to demand truth, justice, openness, and responsibility of those who have been doing this secret work on unwitting guinea pigs.
Editor's Note: We are very grateful to Ms. Candace Brown for sharing her tragic story with us. We are pleased to say that the Board of the Common Cause Medical Research Foundation has voted to award Ms. Brown a $200 honourarium from the "Awe some Dude" Memorial Fund.