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Kent Heckenlively Book Debut: PLAGUE – One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases

Kent H HeadshotBy Kent Heckenlively Kent Book Plague

For those readers kind enough to notice my absence from the pages of Age of Autism for the past two years I’d like to offer an explanation.

If you recall my last articles, I had become very intrigued by the story of Dr. Judy Mikovits and her investigation of retroviruses and their possible connection to chronic fatigue syndrome/ME as well as autism.  In many ways I felt her story, especially the campaign of persecution against her, mirrored that of many other honest scientists who have looked for answers to the questions raised by these diseases. 

That inquiry has resulted in Dr. Mikovits and I writing the book, “PLAGUE – One Scientists’ Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases” to be published by Skyhorse Press on May 6 2014.  The web-site for the book is now on-line at and you can pre-order from the site as well as read some other interesting content.

As an autism advocate, one of the things which has long drawn my attention is that so many of the mothers of children with autism have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at one point, or like my wife, appear to have sub-clinical indications of the disorder. 

Dr. Judy Mikovits, a 20-year veteran of the National Cancer Institute was well-placed to investigate these questions when she started her work on neuro-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and autism in 2006.  Dr. Mikovits has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, many in the world’s top medical journals and she has been profiled in Discover magazine as well as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

I must confess that the two years I spent writing PLAGUE have changed many of my views. I’ve been deeply impressed by the humanity and compassion of many scientists, while at the same time have become more keenly aware of the political and financial obstacles which prevent scientists from making the type of contributions to the well-being of society that they imagined at the beginning of their careers. 

On most nights I sit with my thirteen-year-old son, Ben, and we read for a few minutes before going to sleep.  He prefers science fiction and fantasy and often he’ll run across a series he enjoys so much he demands I read it so we can talk about it.  Ben loved the “Inheritance” series of books by Christopher Paolini, and would not rest until I’d read all four books.  While I was working on PLAGUE I couldn’t help but feel that some of the themes of Paolini’s fantasy tale were applicable to the story I was writing.

In the Inheritance cycle, a teenage boy, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, struggle to overcome the evil king, Galbatorix.  At the climatic showdown, the evil king tells the young hero that any war Eragon might start would create more suffering than anything the king had done during his reign.  And what the king says is true.  A war would cause greater suffering than the evil Eragon was struggling to overcome. 

But the young hero needs to find a way to defeat the tyranny of the king and lift the darkness that has descended over the land. The king has prepared himself for what he believes to be every possible line of attack by erecting a formidable series of physical and magical defenses.  The young hero realizes that he cannot defeat the king by force of arms.  But victory can be achieved if king truly understands what his reign over the land has cost the people.

Eragon casts a spell of understanding, (something the king never expected) so that the king can see the results of his actions and the misery he has caused.  In the end, the king who had believed his reign was just, sees what he has truly wrought, and takes his own life.

I understand the passions these issues generate in some people.  I do not seek to cause trouble.  If there is any spell I can cast, let it be one of understanding and reconciliation, so that others may see that what they believe to have been so beneficial, may have caused harm to many people.  There are no evil kings in this story, no dragons, and I am certainly no wizard.  But the themes of truth and justice are universal.

If there is one wish I have it is that this book may work its way past the defenses of those who have armored themselves against our concerns and bring about true understanding.  I believe that the desire for truth and to lend assistance to those in need is so much stronger than fear and indifference.

Call it a spell, call it a prayer, but my hope for the book, PLAGUE is that it helps many to “understand” some of the critical issues raised by these diseases.  If we honestly look at these problems, I believe the answers can be found much quicker than anybody realizes.

Please visit and let me know what you think of the site.



Grace Green

Kent, This is an inspirational article, as was your lecture from Autism One 2015. I haven't read the book yet.
Whether this terrible saga was caused by ignorance or conspiracy may have changed over the years, or practitioners in the field may have found themselves sucked into a worse mess than they ever suspected. I know that when I and my family were vaccinated in 1953 and my mother got ME, my sister and I (aged 4 and 6months) ASD, my father who was a pharmacologist would not have allowed that to happen had he known. However, I believe he must have raised serious concerns at some point, which would account for the violent persecution I and my family have experienced from the UK government ever since.
I hope your forgiving attitude along with your book will bring a change, along with the efforts of all the activists and writers here.
I also have to love Mary Maxwell's poem, above. Has it been sent to to the PPP yet?

Max Swafford

Kent… With PLAGUE, you and Judy have gone a long way toward opening the eyes of those who are blind to the fact that human frailty and shortcomings can surface in odd, unexpected, even sad ways through the collective forces of big science, big pharmaceutical companies, big politics, and big money people. In the same stroke, you show through Judy's story, that modern day heroes still exist. One can only bow to her courage and tip their hat to your eye for a powerful story. I encourage everyone I know to purchase this book BEFORE it is declared a classic of its time. Nice work, buddy. You guys turned some heads with this one. --- Your friend, collaborator, and fan… Max

Justin Reilly, esq.


Congrats! I have preordered the book and look very forward to reading it. I was at the Mt. Sinai ME "cfs" conference in Nov. and saw Dr. Mikovits' presentation. I had no idea what she was saying, it was all big science words, but I was totally convinced somehow, I think it was her convincing body language. : ) I am sure the book will be fascinating.

Louis Conte

Now I know where you went!

This looks like a great book.

Thanks so much and good luck.


Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB

Kent, I’ll meet you partway on a “spell of understanding” for the bastards. How about this fantasy:

After serving part of his sentence at Ft Leavenworth, for claiming that a baby could tolerate unlimited vaccines, the PPP (previously prestigious pediatrician) had a vision that triggered remorse. In Wordsworth style he penned a verse entitled “I Wandered Lonely As a Jailbird”:

I wandered, lonely, in my stripéd garb,
Trying to pick locks to escape the yard,
When a terrible sight knocked me off my hinges:
A host of daffodil-like syringes!
TEN THOUSAND saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in an ominous dance.

I gazed, and then had a hellish thought
Of what wealth to me this show had brought.
So now when in my cell I lie,
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
And truly my heart with sadness fills,
At what could result from such daffodils….


Kent, Congratulations! Does your book cover the potential vaccine link of how XMRV may have ended up in humans? If I remember correctly the first cases were diagnosed in a group of adults who shared the same doctors and may have received the same vaccines.


Looking forward to reading!


Congrads Kent!
This is really wonderful - you said you were working on big things.

Kent Heckenlively

PLAGUE is now #1 in virology on Amazon, #3 in chronic fatigue syndrome, and #17 in biographies about scientists, just ahead of Walter Isaacson's biography of Ben Franklin!


Congratulations, Kent, on reaching the publishing home stretch!

Your bio states you believe satyagraha and ahisma​ are essential toward building bridges of understanding with those who permit this health damage to continue. Surely much of public health policymakers' resistance to acknowledging vaccine injury is based on baseless fear of what harm victims' sympathizers might do... which, with so many knowing of government's mishandling, would already have occurred.

The other roadblock to acknowledging iatrogenic health damage is people who think in simple black-and-white terms that vaccines do more good than bad. That oversimplification is repeated on social media over and over. But imagine the unified public outcry if automakers used that rationale and refused to offer warranties or compensation to victims of manufacturing errors.

For Karin

Hi Karin

Here are 5 comments of yours which we have posted this year.

"It would seem you are discouraging research in areas where the greatest probability and plausibility for causation and correlation exists for autism. What is your credible basis for this rationale? Likely the reason there are so few studies for your list of conjectured autism causes is those studies already conducted show little or no data to support the hypotheses. The old saying "Don't flog a dead horse" certainly applies."

"With HPV vaccine being created in essentially the same way as a number of other vaccines, are we seeing the same infertility decreases with more than one vaccine?"

"Something I've always struggled to understand when I see it in blogs like this... How does one really know that their immune system has been "strengthened" or "boosted" and that it, in fact, has prevented a disease? Are immunoglobin assays done by a reputable medical laboratory? The mere absence of disease over time is an erroneous correlation as it’s purely anecdotal."

"There was never any study of the carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, effect on the reproductive system or fertility of that vaccine..." Just because it wasn't studied doesn't mean there's a massive and ignored threat lurking in the vaccine. The most likely reason why studies of this type were not performed is that a Bayesian analysis of potential side effects is typically done when developing a new medication or vaccine. Prior probability and plausibility of a specific adverse side effect is assessed by comparing long term data collected in other studies of other similar vaccines. Why waste time and resources on analysis of a purely conjectured adverse outcome that, based on other studies, has an extremely low chance of veracity? Apple juice has never been studied to see if would cause your head to explode - Are they hiding something?"


We do have a number of Plagues in the United States right now... but the CDC is only concerned about the nearly 120 cases of measles in 2010.


I need to make a comment with a question and it's not related to this particular blog entry. HOWEVER, It's actually related to ALL blogs here!

QUESTION to the moderators: I have posted MULTIPLE times to these blogs with rational and scientific based comments, often counter to what is being posted here. WHY are they ALWAYS moderated out? IF there is, in fact, a strict practice of not allowing any posts that don't fit the paradigm here, PLEASE MAKE IT CLEAR TO ALL WHO MIGHT POST HERE!

Laura Hayes

I was just wondering last week what you might be up to that had kept you from posting on I know! Just pre-ordered your book...can't wait!

kathy blanco

Awesome Kent...will order...tell Judy, we still believe her...aka the fifty moms research group...and oh...we still await the andecdote to this retrovirus...cause yeah...that would be good...I also believe this retrovirus has kissing cousins, HHV6, Stealth Virus SV-40, Lyme etc. Co conspirators, or ride alongs? Who knows? Something happened in mid seventies to eighties, imho, introduction of this retrovirus.


From a purely selfish perspective, so glad that what we lost in not seeing your articles on AoA will be made up for by reading your very interesting book!

Betty Bona

Kent, Thank you for telling this story. Among the scientists I know who are not involved in retroviral research, most were more than happy to dismiss every angle of Dr. Mikovits' research saying, "contamination can happen to anyone - let's move on." No lessons learned other than to avoid controversial findings. I strongly agree with Dr. Sagan that we need "an educated, informed public to question the assertions of those in power." In today's world of very advanced scientific knowledge, scientists too often proceed as if the opinions of non-scientists are to be totally disregarded, and only the elite scientific community is worth consulting. A PhD is not necessary to understand that our society is sick, and I'm hoping that your book will help wake up the public to understand that they must be informed.

Judy Brasher

Just preordered and wish I had it today.


Have missed your posts, Ken. The book looks great. Thanks for pointing out the obstacles of scientists. I have found that there are truth seeking scientists and physicians out there that are trying to challenge the status quo and they get ridiculed, blocked or ignored. Science is political, unfortunately.

 Bob Moffitt

"In many ways I felt her story, especially the campaign of persecution against her, mirrored that of many other honest scientists who have looked for answers to the questions raised by these diseases."

Kent .. that alone is a story well worth telling .. looking forward to reading the book at first opportunity.

Roger Kulp

A lot of you know I have been found to have Cerebral Folate Deficiency Syndrome and 5,10 MTHF Deficiency,so far.There is more to be found.CFD represents probably the most acute type of methylation disorder,like anything else there is a spectrum here.

My older sister does not have autism.She has had at least one stillbirth,and has a diagnosis of fibromyalgia severe enough for her to be on SSI.So it's sort of a similar situation in our family.There is a strong link between MTHFR mutations,and other methylation cycle defects,with both autism and CFS/ME/Fibromyalgia.A basic introduction is here.

Many links here.Lots to read.

Donna K

Very much looking forward to reading this book and hopefully reading more posts from you at AoA again.

Aimee Doyle

Ken -- have missed you on AoA. Just pre-ordered your book from Amazon. Looking forward to reading it!

John Stone

Hi Kent,

Glad to hear you've been busy in your absence. Look forward to reading the book.


Alison MacNeil

I've missed your writing Ken. I'm really looking forward to your book!

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