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10 Completely Crazy Conspiracy Theories About The CDC

by Debra Kelly
fact checked by Jamie Frater

The main goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to, theoretically, keep us safe from all those nasty diseases that they have locked away in their labs, their clean rooms, and their biohazard vaults. But, people are people, and people are naturally suspicious of anyone with that many nasty tools at their disposal. This has led a some pretty wild theories about just what’s going on behind the closed doors of the CDC.

Featured photo via Wikimedia Commons

10 The Coffin Stockpile

The CDC is located in Atlanta, Georgia, and that didn’t go unnoticed by people who had also seen what looked like a huge stockpile of coffins sitting in a field along Interstate 20, outside Madison, Georgia. Throw in proximity to the airport, and the rumor mill started turning.

According to the conspiracy theorists, the field was the site of coffins that the CDC was stockpiling in preparation for what they were calling a “high-casualty event.” Most recently, that was the massive Ebola outbreak, when conspiracy theorists realized that not only were the coffins still there, but there was also a page on the CDC website dedicated to the handling and disposal of the bodies of people who had died from Ebola. The site absolutely does specify that special caskets were required for burial. (Originally, they were called “hermetically sealed caskets,” a term that was replaced with “metal” caskets in a January 2015 update.)

There are a couple of huge problems with the whole theory. For one, the caskets are not actually caskets; they’re burial vault liners, which are placed inside the grave in areas that are prone to ground conditions like flooding. The heavy liners keep soil from shifting and collapsing into a wooden casket. Also, the burial vaults don’t belong to the CDC, FEMA, or any other government agency; they belong to the company that manufactures them, Vantage Products. The field in Georgia is just where they store them, and there’s nothing fishy about it, as their manufacturing facilities are located nearby.

9 The Man-Made AIDS Virus

HIV Virus

The idea that AIDS was a man-made virus unleashed on an unsuspecting population really got its start in an East German publication, allegedly sponsored by the KGB, called AIDS: USA Home-Made Evil. The 1986 work of two scientists, the pamphlet argued that the American government had used their Fort Detrick, Maryland, laboratory to combine a sheep virus with a human one to create AIDS.

The whole idea was taken a step further by Dr. William C. Douglass, who wrote AIDS: The End of Civilization and claimed that the German scientists were right, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC were responsible for the introduction of the virus into the human population. He claimed it wasn’t hard because it was spread through pretty much any kind of casual contact that you could think of, including mosquitoes.

Strecker Group head Dr. Robert Strecker also jumped on the conspiracy bandwagon with some even more impressive theories. According to him, the CDC is actively spreading the AIDS virus, which is actually a hybrid between a cow virus and a human one, and there are six different types of AIDS viruses all engineered in what he vaguely suggested might be a partnership with the Communists. His theories, works, and poorly made amateur videos went on to inspire Dr. Alan Cantwell, who pointed the finger at the CDC for what he believed were clear political motivations for their active spread of AIDS.

According to Cantwell, the CDC is the instrument of a genocide targeting America’s gay population. One of his fellow theorists goes, amazingly, a step further and suggests that this incredible attempt at genocide calls for nothing less than martial law and a revocation of civil liberties while the whole problem is sorted out.

8 The CDC, Mercury-Tainted Vaccines, And Autism

Outdoor portrait of 6 years old boy
The battle over whether parents should or shouldn’t vaccinate their children is an ongoing one, and there’s a pretty fascinating story on the conspiracy theorists’ side. In 2005, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. published an article in Rolling Stone linking the big pharmaceutical chains with the government’s tendency to hide potentially dangerous effects.

According to Kennedy, the CDC held a meeting at the Simpsonwood Conference Center, that he described using words and phrases like “isolated” and “complete secrecy.” It was invitation-only, and only top officials from various parts of the government were invited—from the FDA, the WHO, and everyone from a who’s-who list of drug companies. They were under strict orders not to discuss anything.

The whole meeting allegedly had to do with findings released by a CDC epidemiologist that linked mercury-based vaccines with a high rate of autism and other developmental problems like delays in speech and hyperactivity. According to the data, vaccines were responsible for raising the instances of autism to one in 166 cases—up from the normal one in 2,500.

The rest of the conference, Kennedy says, was spent discussing how to cover everything up. He says that the transcripts of the super-top-secret meeting (which he acquired through the Freedom of Information Act) detail the damage control mode that all the representatives went into. Data was reworked, and the CDC was more than happy to lend a helping hand in getting rid of the mercury-based vaccinations, not by destroying them but by selling them and exporting them to other countries.

The transcripts convinced Kennedy that the dangers of vaccinations were real, pointing out that other countries, including Russia, had banned the mercury-based additive from vaccinations decades ago. He goes on to say that the clear conflict of interest and the connections between the CDC and the financial interests of the drug companies make it clear that something needs to be done.

The story hasn’t had an easy run of it. Originally, it first appeared in both Salon and Rolling Stone. Salon retracted the story, while it remained up on the Rolling Stone site in a pay-only section, until disappearing in what they called a “redesign error.” The article then reappeared, and Rolling Stone denied that they had purposely removed it, even though there were no links to the article anywhere, and search terms turned up nothing.

According to Kennedy, there are two doctors that have had access to the information he did: Mark and David Geiers. The Geiers themselves are controversial at best, promoting what they call a cure for autism that involves chemical castration. Mark Geier’s medical license was suspended for promoting this “cure,” and David Geier, who wasn’t even a doctor, was charged with practicing medicine without a license.

7 The Cancer-Causing Polio Vaccine

In 1999, studies were done that seemed to show that those who were immunized by vaccines manufactured from 1954–61 had been also exposed to something called simian virus 40 (SV40). It’s been long debated just how dangerous the virus is, and the 1999 study seemed to confirm that there was, in fact, a higher instance of certain cancers, like bone tumors and mesothelioma, in those that had been vaccinated. Another study from 2005 confirmed that even though the use of SV40 had been outlawed after 1962, some Eastern European manufacturers had still been using it until 1978. To make matters worse, the formula that was used didn’t render the virus inert.

These studies that seemed to confirm a link between SV40 and certain types of cancer are by no means undisputed, though, and the scientific community is still not sitting firmly on one side of the fence or the other about the effects of SV40. Part of the problem is in the purity of the samples. Some recent evidence contradicts claims that the chemical causes cancer by pointing out that the SV40 itself was contaminated—so there are no absolutes yet.

The CDC and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) originally argued with the findings that suggested there was a link, saying that although SV40 had been found in conjunction with some of these prolific cancers, there was nothing that actually proved it was the virus that had caused the cancers. Accusations followed that studies done by the CDC and the NCI deliberately misrepresented the data, leading to the shady conclusion that it was covering something up, especially when they said that there was actually no connection. Conspiracy theorists accused both the CDC and the NCI of conducting their experiments in such a way that they got the results they wanted, in order to cover up the fact that they allowed vaccines which they knew contained live SV40 to be used in millions of children across the country.

Later, in 2013, a page popped up on the CDC website admitting that the original studies had been right, that there was SV40 in polio vaccines, and that some studies seemed to show it was linked to cancer. However, it also stated that an actual causal relationship between SV40 and cancer is debatable. The page was later taken down, although screen captures of it can still be found.

6 Gardasil


Photo credit: Jan Christian

Gardasil is one of two of the major vaccines manufactured for protection against human papillomavirus (HPV). According to the CDC website, there have been a number of reported adverse side effects from the vaccine, including fainting and pain at the injection site. They also say that there have been cases where girls have received the vaccination and died shortly afterward but stress that this doesn’t mean that it’s the vaccine that’s causing the deaths.

Others believe that’s absolutely the case, and the CDC knows. In 2009, the CDC released a report outlining the side effects most common in girls that received a Gardasil injection and, like the website says, they included fainting and blood clots. According to a number of parents, though, the CDC is admitting to tragic stories about children who died days after getting the injections.

However, much of this data is coming from the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The system was designed to keep track of all the side effects reported from vaccines, but it’s an open database that anyone can edit and isn’t fact-checked. The CDC’s official statement in 2009 said that there have been more than 25 million doses of the drug administered, and that the information from the VAERS reports indicate that about 54 cases per 100,000 injections have had side effects, with 32 deaths also reported as being linked.

This one has even the professionals split. Some are siding with the CDC and saying that the deaths were most likely unlinked to the vaccination, but others are a little more suspicious that something else is going on.

5 Bill Gates And Ebola

Bill Gates

Photo credit: Joi Ito

When the Ebola crisis was gripping the world, the CDC was doing something that, on the surface, might look a little strange: They were trying to patent the virus.

That’s just the sort of thing that conspiracy theorists love, and they jumped on it. According to the conspiracy version of the story, the CDC was trying to patent the virus so that they alone held the cure; they would, of course, stand to make a fortune. They were partnering with some other government organizations to do it, including the National Institute of Health and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. They also got a $50 million donation from Bill Gates.

Clearly, that was the tell-all. Conspiracy theorists said that there would be no reason that he would possibly give that kind of money without expecting to make a profit at the end of the day. Gates’s statement said that he wanted vaccinations for every child living in the third world, and that seemed to indicate that he was working with the CDC to secure his profit.

The explanation for the patent, which was real, was much, much less threatening and pretty much the complete opposite of what the conspiracy people were claiming. (Note that the CDC has already patented the SARS virus.) By holding the patent on the virus, they would, in turn, ensure that no pharmaceutical company would be able to hold a monopoly on information crucial to developing a vaccine. Specifically, they had developed a version of the virus that was safe to work with and filed for a patent based on that work.

4 H1N1 Was A Hoax

In 2009, headlines were blazing with the latest news on the H1N1 swine flu pandemic. The basics included prevention, why it was important to get your flu shot, and the consequences of not getting said flu shot. According to the conspiracy theorists, though, there wasn’t anything actually special or more deadly about H1N1; it was just given a serious-sounding name and used as an excuse to make some backdoor deals to sell vaccines.

The CDC and the WHO were supposedly in cahoots in order to drive mass panic through the roof and to sell as many vaccines as they could. They targeted pregnant women and children, saying that those were the most vulnerable to the deadly swine flu, which, before it was over, had the potential to send nearly two million people to the hospital. Studies buried by the CDC apparently confirmed that it wasn’t that bad at all. Family members only had about a 10 percent chance of catching swine flu from another family member, and 99.9 percent of those who contracted the virus would suffer no more than the effects of a mild, typical, seasonal flu.

The CDC was accused of increasing the numbers of people who died from H1N1 and covering up other, underlying conditions or other medical reasons why people were becoming ill and dying. Blaming the flu for deaths meant selling vaccines, whereas telling the truth, including the idea that the flu was worse for people who were overweight, didn’t sell as many vaccines.

Some went so far as to say that the swine flu was less dangerous than the usual seasonal flu and accused the CDC of falsifying numbers and data to make the whole thing look way, way worse than it actually was—all so they could sell vaccines that weren’t going to work anyway.

3 Ebola, Disease & Immigration

The CDC is reportedly a major player in the establishment of the New World Order, and they’re doing it by allowing illegal immigrants into the country to spread disease in the hopes of making the whole health care system collapse.

Maps showing cities in which there were reports of Ebola were found to correspond with maps detailing the highest populations and locations of illegal immigrants. Those are the same locations that have been supposedly predicted to develop the highest-density populations over the next few decades. These areas include those around New York City, San Francisco, and the Gulf Coast, among others.

One of those other areas is Denver, which is home to the New World Order’s official airport. How do we know this? Because of the massive, underground city and complex that’s already been built under the airport in preparation for the establishment of the New World Order.

Going along with the establishment of the New World Order is immigration reform. The CDC is accused of adjusting their Ebola screening protocols in order to hide an increased likelihood that immigrants coming from certain areas of the world are more likely to have been in contact with Ebola and other diseases. This is said to have a dual benefit for the CDC: The number of Ebola cases will grow, making the CDC even more crucial to the survival of the nation. It’ll also reduce the chances that nationality status will be linked in any negative way to contagion and the spread of disease, allowing nationals to enter the country below the radar and be sent off to the so-called “New World Order mega-regions.”

It’s not just Ebola, either. Conspiracy theorists are citing the presence of illegal immigrants, allowed into the country carrying diseases such as tuberculosis, dengue fever, malaria, measles, and hepatitis. The CDC is said to be looking the other way while this flood of immigrants comes across the southern border of the United States, hoping to unleash many diseases into the country, causing the collapse of the economy and of the health care system, all helping to kick-start the New World Order.

2 Lyme Disease

Lyme disease

There are a ton of conspiracy theories out there on Lyme disease for a good reason: There’s a lot that we simply don’t know about it. We just discovered that there’s a good chance that it’s sexually transmittable, and that’s a bit of the puzzle which only showed up in 2014.

There’s also a huge debate about whether or not chronic Lyme disease is a thing, which we’ve mentioned. That debate has very quickly risen to conspiracy theory levels, thanks in large part to Mitt Romney and Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. According to their beliefs, and the findings of a task force led by the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, the CDC has been misrepresenting the facts and numbers behind Lyme disease. The task force also makes some pretty dangerous statements, saying that the CDC, among other medical organizations, has no scientific proof that Lyme disease can be cured by a month-long round of antibiotics.

The task force has also called for the CDC to stand down when it comes to investigating chronic Lyme disease, estimating that one in every six people in Virginia are infected. That’s a far cry from the CDC’s reports of 756 cases in all of 2011, and the belief in chronic Lyme disease is where the danger comes in. Because the symptoms are pretty vague in their own right: headaches, sadness, and fatigue. That means that it’s not unheard of for people to be diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease when they’re suffering from something else like depression, and it’s keeping them from getting the help that they need.

1 Miscarriages And The Flu Vaccine

If there’s anything that the CDC most often seems to get blamed for, it’s getting in on the vaccine market no matter what the cost. In the case of flu vaccines, that cost was said to be unthinkably high.

The CDC usually recommends seasonal flu vaccinations for the most vulnerable citizens—the elderly, the very young, and the pregnant. According to the National Coalition of Organized Women, the 2009–10 flu season was overseen by the CDC, which completely and absolutely did not care that their vaccines were causing thousands and thousands of miscarriages. They claim a 4,250 percent increase in the number of fetal deaths. Their information comes from the VAERS database (which, as we’ve said, isn’t at all reliable).

According to the accusations, the CDC knowingly put out a vaccine that hadn’t been tested for reactions in pregnant women and then released information on how those same pregnant women were the ones that needed to make sure they got the vaccine. The doctor responsible for reporting incidents in those that were vaccinated, Dr. Marie McCormick, was targeted as having covered up the huge increase in fetal deaths. At a 2010 conference, it’s reported that doctors attempted to hide evidence that they had known about the danger and the spike in miscarriages that came along with the vaccine, making those in the know wonder how many other dangers pregnant women, and the population as a whole, are being exposed to because of the double-dealings of the CDC.

fact checked by Jamie Frater
Debra Kelly

After having a number of odd jobs from shed-painter to grave-digger, Debra loves writing about the things no history class will teach. She spends much of her time distracted by her two cattle dogs.

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