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TWiP 60 letters

Maureen writes:

Our vaccine unit here at NIH did a study of malaria vaccine with some promising results. I know Dickson has been a champion of conquering malaria.


Spencer writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

I just received a confirmed case of Cyclospora from the lab on one of my patients who has had several weeks of diarrhea. It appears to be the first one in New Jersey. The patient ate salad that tasted rotten in a local supermarket salad bar. Good thing I am a loyal and avid listener of TWIP! BTW - I am reading "Peoples, Parasites and Plowshares" and I'm really enjoying every page but my wife is scared of the cover!

Spencer Kroll MD PhD

Dr. Steven Reeves writes:

I discovered this podcast only in the past few months. Love it! I am a practicing Internist in a small (8,000 pop.) community in Iowa. I listened with interest as you discussed the ongoing cyclospora outbreak. Just as a point of interest I have three patients in my practice with a confirmed diagnosis. What I also wonder is whether we are experiencing an observational bias?? We are finding cyclospora because we are looking for it. In addition, when we send stool specimens for evaluation (culture, O&P and WBC) we must specifically ask for cyclospora testing just as we must also ask specifically for Norovirus. I find this interesting and wonder if it might be playing a role in the current numbers. Thanks again for a great podcast!!! BTW: temp today is a perfect 76 degrees F. Finally!! We have been in the grip of a heatwave.

Trudy writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

I'm writing this email because of a comment made by Dickson on TWiP 57 regarding the CDC. Dickson mentioned that the CDC was underfunded and the campus still looked like something out of the 19th century. I was wondering if Dickson has visited Roybal campus (the main campus) since the turn of the millennium? A series of renovations took place starting around 2003/2004, and almost all buildings have since been replaced. The end result is quite stunning, with the campus resembling a booming metropolis (I included a link with pictures).

Unfortunately, this change has not really been reflected in scientists' salaries, and according to most standards, I would say that compensation is still less than adequate, especially considering the nature and complexity of work being done there.


Anyway, be well and keep TWiPping!


Jim writes:


This is for Dickson. The Dec 73 National Geographic has an article about Greenland which says on p 867,"We were crossing a frozen inlet," he recalls, "when we went through the ice, losing our food and nearly all our equipment except two sleeping bags and a tent. We scrambled ashore with the dogs.

"I knew there was a trappers' hut up the coast, probably with a cache of food. In the meantime we could always eat the dogs in an emergency -- or so I thought, until the weather took a sudden warm turn.

"You see," Steen explains, "some Greenland dogs, like others in the Arctic, carry trichinosis. Dogs seem to be only mildly affected by this disease, which is caused by small worms. To humans, it can be fatal.

"To kill the worms, you either cook the meat or let it stand for several days at below-zero temperatures. The only trouble was that we had lost our stove fuel and the temperature stayed above zero."

In fact, it stayed above zero for three weeks, while a snowstorm raged. In their tent, the men grew weaker each day At last the snow stopped and they managed to walk and crawl to the hut -- followed by the dogs, who were even weaker than they. A trapper making his rounds finally rescued them.

I can send a pdf of the article, if you want it, or the hard copy for which I'll need an address. I've just dismantled a bunch of the NG's to extract indian-related material for a relative in Arizona after learning the whole magazines can't be sent by media mail because they contain advertisements! They weight about a pound each! Too bad.


Smithfield, VA

Robin writes:

Why can't Dr. Dickson TWIP via Skype when away?

Howard writes:

Dear Esteemed and Erudite Professors,

I’d like to revisit something Dr. Despommier said about why the whole sporozoite vaccine produces immunity whereas natural infection does not. He was surprised that intravenous injection of the sporozoites was effective vs the natural way of the mosquito injecting them into the skin. I’m pretty sure if he listened to the episode later he realized he misspoke since the female mosquito indeed delivers the parasites intravenously because that is where it is getting it’s blood meal. The abstract of that paper in science contains what the authors believe is the reason it works. “These data indicate that there is a dose-dependent immunological threshold for establishing high-level protection against malaria that can be achieved with IV administration of a vaccine that is safe and meets regulatory standards.” The series of injections delivered a total dose of between 540,000 (30% protection) and 675,000 (100% protection) attenuated sporozoites vs. the much lower numbers of infectious sporozoites delivered into venules by the vector. From the parasites’ point of view less is better since a few continue the replication cycle whereas many would cause immunity or possibly death of the host by overwhelming infection.

As always, thanks for continuing to make these three series of the best science podcasts available in the universe.

Blaine writes:

Hello Twipsters,

I found this delightful account of a beef tapeworm infection on the internet:

"The Worm Within" http://www.fray.com/drugs/worm/

It is a fantastic read that I am sure many listeners would love to check out.

Yours in parasitology,

Fort McMurray, AB

Jim writes:

Foyle’s War episode invoving a tick bite.

It's noteworthy by its rarity. Here's the link to an episode description which omits the tick, but the bite is crucial to the ending! Some good British TV.

Smithfield, VA

Suzanne writes:

I have a question possibly more related to TWiP. I've heard a couple of gardening radio show hosts mention making a mosquito trap out of standing water with mosquito dunks (Bt) in it. The idea is that any area mosquitoes lay their eggs there and don't go looking for other places with standing water. The larvae are eaten and you have fewer mosquitoes in the next generation than you would have if you'd just emptied all the standing water you could find. I was interested to hear what Dickson thought about that.


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