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TWiP 62 letters


Blaine writes:

Hi Twippies,

I saw today in the New York Times that a hookworm vaccine will be tested in Gabon. I found this very intriguing as your discussions of parasitic worms have rarely included the possibility of vaccines. Can you please comment on this. Are there certain biological challenges to making vaccines against worms? Or is there simply no money in making these vaccines since they are not needed in rich developed countries? It seems to me that it would be much simpler (and cheaper) to just educate people on how to avoid most of these parasites than to produce a vaccine. Simple practises, such as digging your outhouse six feet deep, or curing your feces before using it as fertilizer would eliminate many of these parasites. I would love to hear your comments on this matter.

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada

PS. The Link to the NYTimes article is here:

John writes:

In a local newspaper:

"Zoonotic research taking Framingham man to Peru"


Robin writes:

Parasites may be sneakier than we surmise:

Transformation of malaria parasites by the spontaneous uptake and expression of DNA from human erythrocytes


We may have more baggage than we know:

Invasive Genes: Humans incorporate DNA from parasite


Jim writes:


A pdf made from a local newspaper article is attached concerning a biologist who found a nematode embedded in his mouth. The article is available online from The Daily Press, but you have to subscribe to read it. I assume it's ok to make the pdf available to your listeners, if you desire.


Smithfield, VA

Mike writes:

Hi Guys,

I know that insect larvae are much bigger than your usual fortey, but I find the bot-fly life-cycle fascinating. I don't think it can be defined as an ecto-parasite, as it actually develops inside the skin, not on top of it. Care to discuss it a little? I would love to hear your take Dick.


Jim writes:

Here's another one, and I quote,

"A scientific discovery falls out of this epidemiologist's nose
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 1:28 PM

Imagine finding a tick up your nose — and being happy about it.

Epidemiologist Tony Goldberg was working with primates in Kibale National Park in Uganda. But, when he returned to his lab at the University of Wisconsin, he began feeling some pain in his nose.

That's when Goldberg discovered a tick inside his right nostril. Definitely not something that's cause for celebration, usually.

"I made use of a mirror, a flashlight and some forceps to remove it," Goldberg said. "I was fortunate to grasp it firmly by the mouth parts and I got the tick in its entirety out of my nose, sparing the surrounding nose hairs."

But, being a man of science, after he removed the tick, Goldberg analyzed its DNA.

The nostril tick belonged to the genus Amblyomma. But it didn't match any known bugs in various databases.

That means it could be a tick that hasn't been genetically characterized yet — or a completely new species.

"We're still learning the pathways that diseases can use to move between wildlife and people. And this nose tick is a slightly amusing and particularly gross example of how diseases move in nature," Goldberg said.

Smithfield, VA

Raihan writes:

Dear esteemed and honoured Professors,

I'm writing in response to TWIP 57 where in the intro Prof Despommier mentioned that he had just returned from Singapore. The question was asked if water is spins clockwise or anticlockwise down the toilet since Singapore lies 1 degree north of the equator and I am pleased to announce, as a Singaporean, that water spins anticlockwise in Singapore.
I just did this experiment in my lab sink and toilet. Finally, I've produced some research worth noting.

Apparently the fact that it does not spin clockwise here has been noted before (check out the last paragraph). But i'm still searching as to why this is so. I do know that the coriolis effect is strongest away form the poles and that it does not have much of an effect on small sinks, ie, you can easily push water in the opposite direction and the water would willingly change its course, but none of these explains why the water rotates anti clockwise.

A student in virology, not so much in the coriolis effect.

Jim writes:

Just got this link to an Australian Video via Digg in case it's of interest.

Smithfield, VA



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