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Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory Paperback – August 9, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Startling...[Carroll] raises critical questions about the ever-changing balance between science, security and safety...Right on target.” (Popular Science)

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006078184X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060781842
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason VINE VOICE on February 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
Reading an official press release from Plum Island is fairly benign. What's not easy is to read, however, is the litany of diseases handled incompetently there: Ebola, Marburg hemorrhagic fever, foot-and-mouth disease, Rift Valley fever virus, anthrax, plague, Entebbe, Zagazig 501, typhoid, diphtheria, E. coli, AIDS, polio, Japanese encephalitis, swine flu, mad cow disease, virulent influenza, Coxsackie B-5 virus, louping ill, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Newcastle disease, vesicular stomatitis virus, contagious ecthyma, Nairobi sheep disease, and anthrax. Not all of these viruses have been contained. And that doesn't even take into account the various other test tube concoctions that cause encephalatic brain seizures, massive hemorrhaging, blindness, and death. Scary stuff, right?

Indeed, it's easy to make connections between Plum Island and three major disease outbreaks (West Nile virus - 1999, Lyme disease - 1975, Dutch duck plague - 1967). When looking at a map that displays the number of Lyme disease cases in the US, the results are staggering. There is a heavier concentration of Lyme disease within a small radius of Plum Island than anywhere else in the U.S., which doesn't come as much of a surprise when considering they bred and infected deer ticks and Lone Star ticks by the thousands.

Multiple outbreaks and deficiencies have been noted, but management has admitted only six employees contractions of exotic animal diseases: 3 - Newcastle, 2 - vesicular stomatitis, 1 - foot-and-mouth disease. On the verge of an environmental catastrophe for decades, it's hard to believe their miniscule estimates.
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Format: Paperback
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"
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Format: Paperback
Like THE RIVER, author Michael C. Carroll has a lot of evidence some of it circumstantial and some of it solid that suggests the spread of Lyme Disease and even West Nile Virus could be the work of the US Government's research on Plum Island. Nestled in Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut and not far from New York City this "biological Three Mile Island" was established to do research on bio warfare using techniques that were developed by the Nazi's and Japanese during World War II. Using Project Paperclip to offer refuge to German scientists (and Japense as well) after the war U.S. scientists benefited from the knowledge that was developed on POW's and concentration camp victims to develop new and better ways to kill and disable our enemies.

Lab 257 was the focal point of much of this research. The lab had consistent failures in isolating many of the viruses and bacteria that they studied. In fact the negative pressure environment where the animal bodies were to be destroyed was wired incorrectly blowing potential viruses and bacteria everywhere prior to their disposal. Using information from people who worked there (some anonymously), declassified files and other credible sources of information Carroll makes a compelling case for the carelessness of our government in research that may have helped spread Lyme disease infected ticks and other viruses into the environment.

While it certainly is important to understand how many of these viruses and bacteria work, it's even more important to protect the public from contamination. The sloppy methods used at the lab put many people that live in the surrounding area at risk. Since takne over by the Department of Homeland Security, Americans are in the dark as to the plans for this biological waste disposal site.
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For a book about biology and history, Lab 257 reads more like modern horror, or maybe even a thriller. I became interested in the subject after seeing an episode of Jesse Ventura's Conspiracy Theory about Plum Island. While I took it most of it with a grain of salt (as one is wont to do with conspiracy theories, especially regarding "mutants" washing up on a nearby beach), it did make me quite curious about what was going on out there.

Granted, most of Lab 257 falls far from revealing autopsies of little green men, mutated humans, or any New World Order plots, the content is significantly disturbing. Yes, the author makes the case that Lyme Disease was spread originally from Plum Island, and that the island's research facility was designed by a Nazi scientist, but that's not what scared me the most.

The waste and mismanagement of the island is appaling, regardless of your own political views. For a facility that houses such dangerous pathogens as Rift Valley fever and foot and mouth disease, it was downright shocking to read just how pathetically the management handled dangerous situations. Even during Plum Island's "golden years," until its privitization, I couldn't believe the problems that were occurring there (holes in the roof, wide open ventilation ducts, peeling paint, etc). One chapter after privitization is entitled "Decline," and I honestly didn't know how it could get worse, but it did: raw, disease infested sewage flooding a lab during a power outage (the workers who prevented a biological meltdown were promptly fired after that incident), nine-to-five unarmed security watching over the facility, employees driving boxes of viruses around in vans, and leaving them at the ferry dock like any parcel.
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