Spirochete Warfare

by Elena Cook


Borrelia, the microbes which cause Lyme disease, are a sub-type of the wider biological classification of spirochetes. Now it has become apparent that the spirochetes were weaponized over 75 years ago.

That knowledge comes to us from a book published in 1944. The title of the book is "Japan's Secret Weapon", by Barclay Newman, a leading science writer of the time, as well as former US Navy malaria scientist.

For decades the public health agencies of the US and other NATO countries have denied the existence of virulent cell-wall deficient forms of spirochetes. The lack of a cell wall renders microbes resistant to penicillin and related antibiotics, as these work precisely by disrupting the formation of new cell walls during bacterial replication. The minute size and pleomorphic nature of these forms, in contrast to the striking spiral shape of a typical spirochete as featured in modern microbiology textbooks, made these microbes appear "invisible" - above all to those who did not wish, or did not wish others, to see them.

This WW2-era book helps to confirm what some investigating the history of Lyme disease have long suspected; that the official denial of the devastating pathogenic nature of the granule and other "L-forms"(1) of Lyme-causing Borrelia, is related to their biological warfare significance.

To put it bluntly, Newman's book provides cogent circumstantial evidence that many Cell-wall deficient forms of Borrelia are in fact weaponized spirochetes, nurtured, cultured and optimized for aerosol delivery.

The following essay is based on the information in Chapter IV of Newman's book. The title of the chapter is simply "Spirochete Warfare".


For many decades it was assumed that the horrors of the Second World War did not include the use of biological weapons. Finally, in the 1980's, thanks to the diligent efforts of historians and investigative journalists, the barbaric crimes of the Japanese Unit 731 were revealed to the general public.

Unit 731 and related units practised mass medical experimentation, including the cutting open of living human beings, who endured grotesque surgical operations without anaesthetic. Often the purpose was to observe directly the hemorrhaging and other changes in the organs of the victim - man, woman or child - as he or she died in agony from a deliberately-induced infectious disease.

As well as human experimentation, the Japanese scientists launched attacks with plague and other weapons of mass destruction, killing many thousands of Chinese and other victims. The true death toll of these atrocities is not yet known outside of classified circles.

Though the US government has long denied it, not only were they fully aware of the Japanese and Nazi biowarfare programs, but also, incredibly, after the War, they protected the architects of these programs of death from prosecution as war criminals. This was in order to recruit them for the American biological weapons program against the Soviet bloc, which they duly did.

We now know, for example, that the US allowed leading Nazi bioweaponeer Erich Traub to play a major role in setting up research at their biowarfare lab on Plum Island, a stone's throw away from Lyme, Connecticut, where the first recorded outbreak of Lyme disease in America occurred in the 1970's. Traub's germ warfare knowledge was considered so important that, his Nazi past notwithstanding, he was invited to take charge of scientific research on the Island in the 1950's.

Like Traub, Japanese biowarfaremen were similarly greeted with open arms, their wartime atrocities hushed up. In return for their co-operation, the US allowed these monsters to occupy some of the most prestigious and influential posts in Japanese medicine, till their retirement decades later.

Newman's Fear

During the War, Barclay Newman, leading science writer and former malariologist with the US Navy became aware that the Japanese were building up a program of deadly biological weaponry. Desperate to warn his countrymen of what he believed was an impending Armageddon, he wrote a book entitled "Japan's Secret Weapon".

At the time, the American military authorities wanted to ban his book, but later decided that to do so would call too much attention to the very issues they considered it necessary to cover up. Instead they resorted to arranging a smear campaign against the author, and unfavorable reviews dismissing Newman's revelations as alarmist fantasy were published in the press. Today, thanks to the efforts of leading historians, we know that Newman's fears regarding a Japanese biological program of mass destruction were soundly-based, and indeed, one of the most authoritative works on the history of biowarfare Unit 731 relies on information found in Newman's book.(2)

"Japan's Secret Weapon" contains no less than 28 pages on one aspect of the Japanese bioweapon program - "Spirochete Warfare". Newman begins his chapter of the same name by lamenting the widespread disbelief, in his era, of the true devastating potential of germ warfare. He then alleges that two to three years before Pearl Harbor, "Nazi and Japanese scientists cooperated in warfare against or with spirochetes - in Hawaii." (original author's italics). What he is referring to is an exceptionally virulent outbreak of the spirochetal disease leptospirosis, also known as Weil's disease, and known at the time in Germany as "slime fever". With official reports of 44% mortality from the outbreak, Newman states:

Consult the authorities, and you will find out that, very definitely, so high a mortality is attained only by Japanese strains of spirochetes of slime fever.

In his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style, Newman goes on to say the following:

Suppose you consult a spirochete specialist in his laboratory at an institute devoted to research on tropical diseases. This specialist is busy, of course. But not so busy as he ought to be or as he will be later..."It is difficult, even for an expert technician, to catch and recognize a spirochete," the specialist informs you. "So here are some pictures from the gallery of the world's worst rogues."

Newman goes on to describe a picture of a typical syphilis spirochete, in a manual offered by the hypothetical spirochetologist to the reader, and then says:

"Bacterium?" you ask.
"No, according to the Japanese, who know the most about spirochetes, they are like bacteria in being low forms of plant life - that is, fungi. The Japanese claim that spirochetes are closely related to bacteria but are not bacteria, among which spiral forms are found. Like bacteria, spirochetes reproduce by splitting across the middle. But the Japanese think that a spirochete can also break itself into many tiny granules, each as small as the invisible molecule of a virus, and each capable of recreating a new spirochete. Bacteria do not seem to multiply in this odd way...The Japanese say that there is no drug effective against this spirochete."
(Emphasis mine. It is important to bear in mind that these words were written at the dawn of the antibiotic era. Today many patients who have been lucky enough to receive a correct diagnosis of their Lyme disease have been cured, or had their symptoms alleviated, by modern therapeutic agents.)

The imaginary spirochetologist goes on to explain that much of the research on spirochetes current at that time, and even the manuals in use by US forces and the Public Health Service, are based on Japanese findings. In Newman's scenario, the reader goes on to examine pictures of syphilis, borrelia and other spirochetes, in the US military manual, all originating from Japanese drawings:

You find out that Inada and Ito were the great investigators of the spirochetes of slime fever. When you peer closely at the dainty Japanese pictures of this spirochete, you perceive that, although at first sight it seems to be a chain of bright dots, it is really a slender thread whose spiralling gives the impression of beading. The thread is curved or hooked at one or both ends. The living spiral propels itself by rotary motion of the hook, as the Japanese discovered.
Newman then describes how the work of Hideyo Noguchi, acclaimed worldwide for his discovery of the syphilis spirochete as the cause of general paresis in 1913, was continued in Japanese labs.
Japanese technicians took a hint from Noguchi and forced the spirochete to multiply on special jellies. The Japanese have reported that you can increase the virulence, or killing power, of these spirals by growing them in flesh and blood, of guinea pig or man.

(Emphasis mine.) It is useful to remember at this point that the difficulty in culturing spirochetes using normal, ethical methods, was not just a pitfall of WW2-era technology. The resistance of many spirochetes, including borrelia, to culture in vitro remains a problem for lab scientists even today.

In Japan, vaccines for prophylaxis have long been in use. But non-Japanese workers cannot make such vaccines. None but the Japanese seems to know how to use spirochete vaccines to prevent the spread of an epidemic.
Newman goes on to discuss the Japanese discoveries of spirochetal agents of nanukayami ("seven-day fever") and akiyami ("autumn fever") and then, referring to one of the original discoverers of the causative agent of leptospirosis, states:
Inada has reported that the Japanese know how to get virus-like, quite invisible particles or spirochete- fragments from special cultures of spirochetes of infectious jaundice. The Japanese say that such infinitesimals can be used to infect animals and men, by spraying droplets containing these spirochete-creating bits into the air, or spreading them through water, or scattering them in mud or damp soil.

(Emphasis mine.)

Newman then discusses the prevalence of leptospirosis worldwide, and his imaginary spirochete expert notes:

"...Immediately before the Japanese invasion of China, Indo-China, the Dutch East Indies, and the Malay States, and shortly before the Japanese invasion of India and the Japanese strokes at Australia, the very first outbreaks of slime fever were reported from every one of these areas..."
After an enigmatic discussion about American and British outbreaks of leptospirosis, and the tick-borne disease tularemia in the US (the latter Newman's scientist describes as having "somehow got in accidentally from Japan"), the reader, in the hypothetical discussion, asks about antibiotics:
"Why can't sulfa drugs be used?"

"Simply because they have no effect on the spirochetes."

"What about penicillin? The newspapers say that penicillin is effective where other miracle drugs fail."

"That's an enthusiastic way of telling you that penicillin is effective against certain infections caused by bacteria which are not influenced by sulfa dugs. As the Japanese have pointed out, spirochetes are not bacteria. And just to give you some idea of the distance to a cure-all, the Japanese actually grow dysentery bacilli and other bacteria in cultures saturated with sulfa drugs. In this way they get strains which are not only more virulent but completely resistant to sulfa drugs. Other bacteria not affected by the most miraculous new synthetics are those of tuberculosis and leprosy. For the worst plagues there are as yet no drugs at all..."

"...They [ie the Japanese] find spirochetes especially fascinating?"

"And they never give up. In 1940, Masao Mujimori reported new successes in transmitting syphilis spirochetes from cultures grown for many years in the laboratories of Tokyo Imperial University - doubtless the very cultures started in a small way by Noguchi. Fujimori (sic) was testing out the effects of spreading two different parasites into the same guinea pig at the same time. The Japanese discovered that one parasite promotes the lethal action of the other. He demonstrated that diphtheria bacilli are more virulent when used along with syphilis ...

"Sometimes the Japanese think up the damnedest experiments, such as the transmission of syphilis by spraying the spirochetes into the air or into the eyes of animals or volunteers. Infection is thus accomplished. Japanese technicians have been not only the outstandingly successful cultivators of spirochetes and many other very deadly germs but also the sole successful mass producers of the most dangerous and horrible microbes....Some of the apparently fantastic claims of new methods of transmission by Japanese specialists have been investigated and their truth established in American laboratories years after the claims were first made. Therefore, if you want to speculate further about the possibilities of spirochete warfare, you can be sure that the Japanese know how to spread any spirochete disease - slime fever, syphilis, yaws, sodoku (3), relapsing fever - by spraying droplets laden with specially cultured spirochetes. So they do not have to drop infected fleas, rats or even leopards from planes, as suggested by popular writers.

Relapsing fever is caused by the Borrelia genus of bacteria, and is generally transmitted to man either by lice, or by the bite of a tick. It is worth noting, too, that recent investigations into the genetic make-up of Lyme borrelia have found some strains apparently more closely related to relapsing fever Borrelia than to Borrelia burgdorferi, long considered the only borrelia capable of causing Lyme disease.

The spirochetologist continues:

"It would cost only a few thousand yen, possibly only a few yen if you pieced out the work in homes, to produce enough spirochetes to infect a nation or even a continent. As to methods of broadcasting spirochetes secretly so as to avoid detection and reprisal, you yourself can probably list hundreds of different furtive technics if you put your mind on the problem...Such broadcast spirochetes and super-spirochetes bred to order would stay alive in dust, water, damp soil, mud, food. And none would be the wiser. Cases and epidemics would not break out until the enemy had been gone for days, weeks, or even months...."

The conversation continues:

"Are spirochetes really doing any significant killing anywhere?"

"Slime fever kills its thousands, syphilis and yaws their tens of thousands, and spirochete relapsing fever its hundreds of thousands if not its millions..."

"Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions - where?"

"In Africa today, where it is spread among tens of millions by ticks, lice and bedbugs. The spirochete of relapsing fever is almost as important a killer as malaria and trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness...The spirochete virulence varies widely...Only a small per cent may succumb, but in a few epidemics the mortality has attained 75 per cent. In West Africa in a recent epidemic extending through several years, probably 10 per cent of the entire population was killed off by spirochetes running wild from Morocco and Algiers down the Niger to Senegal and the French Sudan, southward to the Gold Coast and Nigeria. Perhaps a million natives died in this one epidemic..."
Newman's spirochetologist then suggests that the tropical spirochetal disease yaws would be an even more likely candidate for dissemination by the Japanese, due to the fact that apart from flies, the disease may be spread by contact with infected objects and any direct contact with a sufferer. He describes how, after an incubation period of a few weeks, yaws causes joint pains, digestive disturbances, headache, fever and a skin nodule surrounded by a ring of inflammation. A few months later further sores break out and the headache and joint pains intensify. The symptoms are recurrent and in the late stages the victim suffers horrific deformity of his face as the spirochetes rot the bones of the nose, palate and eye. The spirochetologist reassures the reader that a deliberate dissemination of yaws in temperate climates could be controlled by modern hygiene measures and drugs. Asked why yaws and other epidemics were not controlled in the Philippines, given that "disease and not the Japanese beat us in the Philippines", the scientist simply shrugs:
"Such an oversight is out of my province."

"How many lives would you say such an oversight has cost?"

"Hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of casualties in the Philippines alone, within a space of a very few years, say five."
Newman's scientist discusses, with more than a dollop of cynicism, the fact that recent efforts by US scientists to duplicate experiments in the culture of yaws and syphilis spirochetes published by Noguchi and his successors have failed.
"Now we find that no spirochetes develop in such jellies, even though the Japanese directions are followed painstakingly. Essential information must have been withheld by the Japanese. Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe that Noguchi would in his magnificent benevolence countenance such secrecy. Noguchi had a world view."
The chapter concludes with a discussion of sodoku, and the fact that Japanese researchers had "found" these microbes in the noses of lepers in India, even though it is normally acquired not by the airborne route, but by the bite of an animal. The Japanese reported that these bacteria were then able to infect "volunteers". Newman, referring to biowarfare as "oligodynamic warfare", concludes his chapter on spirochetes with the following chilling words:
In oligodynamic warfare, pigmies amok may loose the thunderbolts of the gods.

Lyme disease, like that other spirochetal disease, syphilis, is known as a "Great Imitator". It is believed to be able to mimic dozens of conditions, including Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E., Attention Deficit Disorder, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and many more. Recent evidence has even linked it with the devastating plague of Alzheimers. (4)(5)

Could we, in the 21st century, be witnessing the shocking legacy of attempts to unleash the "thunderbolts of the gods?"

"Japan's Secret Weapon" by Barclay Newman was published by Current Publishing Co., New York in 1944. At the time of writing (November 2008), it is still available to the public at various online booksellers, at prices ranging from $25 to $100. (6)

Elena Cook can be contacted at the following email address:

elena444cook at yahoo dot co dot uk


  1. L-forms are variants of bacteria lacking a cell wall. The "L" refers to the Lister Institute where they were studied in the 1930's. They occur both spontaneously and also as a result of induction in the lab by agents such as penicillin. Some L-forms revert to their original form; others appear to remain stable. (adapted from "Jawetz, Melnick and Adelberg's Medical Microbiology", McGraw-Hill Professional, 2004)
  2. ie "Unit 731, the Japanese Army's Secret off Secrets", Williams P, and Wallace, D, Published by Hodder and Stoughton 1989.
  3. Sodoku is the Japanese name for the disease rat-bite fever. According to CDC, "Rat-bite fever (RBF) is an infectious disease caused by two different organisms, Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus. In the United States, Rat-bite fever is primarily due to infection with S. moniliformis. Spirillum minus causes Rat-bite fever cases in countries such as Asia and Africa." Interestingly S. Moniliformis was one of the first bacteria for which L-form was cultured in the lab. (Shingaki et al, in "Induction of L-form-like cell shape change of Bacillus subtilis under microculture conditions" Microbiology 149 (2003), 2501-2511) Spirillum minus, though spiral-shaped, is no longer classified as a spirochete in microbiological nomenclature.
  4. See "Plaques of Alzheimer's disease originate from cysts of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease spirochete" MacDonald AB., Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(3):592-600. Epub 2006
  5. See also "Beta-amyloid deposition and Alzheimer's type changes induced by Borrelia spirochetes". Miklossy et al, Neurobiol Aging. 2006 Feb;27(2):228-36.
  6. http://tinyurl.com/692h9g