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TWiP 49 Letters

Jim writes:

Professors, you've discussed this idea before, but I thought you'd enjoy this nice summary from Nature:


And I do enjoy your podcasts. Thank you for sharing your wonderful conversations!
Sincerely, another "Jim" from Virginia

Alan writes:



Virginia writes:

I've been fascinated with parasites for years, ever since reading Peeps, a novel by Scott Westerfield. While it is fiction, every other chapter focused on a particular parasite and described its life cycle.

When I found this podcast, I nearly burst from happiness! While I am no longer a wildlife biology student (I recently switched to an English major - what a change, eh?), I still love learning more about parasitism. So many people find it odd that I'm so enamoured with such "gross" creatures, but I think they're just nifty.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for starting this podcast. It is both informative and entertaining. Keep up the excellent work!

Ethan writes:

Saw this and it instantly reminded me of Dickson's heavy breathing in the background.


Don writes:

Dear Sirs.
I became intersted in parasites of the gills in fresh water fish, esp Myxoma fundubli, and was surprised to learn tha this animal produces spores. How common is that? Your TWIPMV is marvelous, thank you so much.

Spencer writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

Here's a link to an interesting study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that was done in China suggesting that schistosome infection may curb diabetes risk. The researchers detected an association between previous schistosome infection and a lower prevalence of diabetes in patients. This may hint at a link between glucose metabolism and T cell mediated cytokine secretion. Before I tell patients to go seek out schistosome infection, perhaps more studies need to be done.

Association of Previous Schistosome Infection With Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: A Cross-Sectional Study in Rural China


Spencer Kroll MD PhD

Noor writes:

I apologize in advance for the large volume of correspondence, and for not knowing the entire catalogue of what has and has not been covered. I send these e-mails with only the utmost respect and admiration.

I was so ready to roll my eyes into the back of my head for that story, but found myself captivated. I believe I sense the gift.

Also any chance of exploring the facts of the great Candiru myth?

From Wikipedia:

William S. Burroughs wrote about the candiru in his 1959 novel Naked Lunch, describing it as "a small eel-like fish or worm about one-quarter inch through and two inches long patronizing certain rivers of ill repute in the Greater Amazon Basin, will dart up your *censored* and hold himself there by sharp spines with precisely what motives is not known since no one has stepped forward to observe the candiru's life-cycle in situ."[22] Burroughs also mentioned it in The Yage Letters: "At that time I was stationed at the remote jungle outpost of Candiru, so named from a tiny eel like fish that infests the rivers of that area. This vicious fish introduces itself into the most intimate parts of the human body, maintaining itself there by poisonous barbs while it feeds on the soft membranes".[23] The fish is also referred to in David Grann's The Lost City of Zand in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club (novel).

Not knowing anything about its reproductive or life cycle, its difficult to say if this should be classed a predator or parasite, but in my book anything that "allegedly" swims up your urethra and needles itself in there permanantly should be classed a parasite, although one that certainly shows no regard for the life of the host, although I'm sure there must be surgical interventions to prevent kidney rupture.

It should also be noted that the Candiru is a major plot point in the Season 1 Episode 9 of the animated Adult Swim show "The Venture Brothers" entitled "Are You There God? It's Me Dean."

The episode appears to have been available for free some time in the past, but is now certainly $2 on iTunes. http://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/the-venture-bros.-season-1/id256218414

Being a Johnny Quest kid I have a special place in my heart for The Venture Brothers.


Robin writes:

With regard to TWIP & TWIM & TWIV: Keep 'em comin' !

Possible reservoirs in a vertical farmer:

Many hares
Ten little piggies.
Two soles.
Two calves.
A large variety of ducks:
Thoracic, R lymphatic
(R & L & common) hepatic, (cystic & common) bile, pancreatic etc.

Visceral pain:

All viscera except the central nervous system have pain receptors. They are activated by stimuli appropriate to the organ, which are not necessarily the same as the stimuli for somatic receptors. The intestine can be cut with a knife without pain, but just about everyone has experienced the pain from stretching of the gut. The pain receptors in most solid organs is located in their (fibrous) capsules, and are stimulated by ACUTE stretching or ACUTE inflammation.

Insects, bugs & arachnids:

It was quite clear to me in school that all bugs were insects, but that not all insects were bugs. I would not have graduated if I were not clear on that point. I had to unlearn English after coming to the uS of A (lower case "u", as that is the way it was originally intended, in the Declaration of Independence).
Likewise, I would not have graduated if I had lumped ticks and mites with insects. But of course in the uS, one must not expect to hear about Medical Arachnidology.

Mosquito swarms:

In my childhood, I remember swarms of male mosquitoes swirling above the heads of people in the evenings. One knew that they were male because they had mustaches (feathery antennae). Therefore one was not concerned about being bitten by them.


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