New York’s Plum Island is home to a relatively notorious Department of Agriculture/Department of Homeland Security-controlled laboratory, and, if you haven’t heard, it may be going up for sale. Conspiracy theories abound about nefarious happenings on the government-owned island, which is primarily used for the development of vaccines for diseases that affect livestock.

Perhaps the most credible of these is that Lyme disease originated on the island, an idea espoused by Michael Carroll, author of Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory. “They were researching hundreds of thousands of hard and soft ticks,” Carroll argues in a new CBS News report on the island, “and at the same time, an unknown bacteria has found its way into the mouth of the Connecticut River in Old Lyme, 10 miles away.” Researchers contend, however, that neither the ticks that carry Lyme disease nor the bacteria that causes it were ever present on the island.

Either way, Plum Island won’t be in government hands for long–the Department of Agriculture facilities will eventually be moved to cattle country in Manhattan, Kansas, where we can only imagine the results of another accidental foot-and-mouth outbreak like the one on Plum Island in 1978 would be much, much worse.

(Photo: New York National Guard/Flickr)