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TWiV 140 Letters

from @Lafrenchfille on Twitter:

French listen to your very cool podcast. So I can confirm, "Mimi" is french !

Peter writes:

Regarding the podcasting advice from the fellow in Israel.

Explain stuff in the beginning of the episode?

That's what the pause button and google are for.

Edit or don't edit the episodes?

Don't! It's more time wasted and the collegial feel will disappear. At the moment the twiv experience is like were are sitting at the table in Vincent's office.

In fact, I was in hospital recovering from acute pancreatitis when I listened to CSI Virology (episode 110) on speaker on my iPhone. Whilst listening, every now and then I would laugh or make audible comment. The nurses in the station outside my room door were wondering 'Who is this patient who is having conversations with these American doctors / Scientists about viruses and arsenic eating bacteria? They even contrived to send a senior nurse into my room to try and figure out what was going on.

Thus, the podcast is so conversational it fooled them into thinking I was in on some sort of conference call, and THAT is what makes your podcasts stand well out from the crowd (..as well as the content of course).


I did not enlighten them as to what was going on, but vicariously enjoyed being a 'man of mystery' as they speculated on who I could be.<grin>


sydney australia

Casey writes:


I am glad that TWiV evolved into TWiP, which evolved into TWiM. I love listening to all three when I am walking, since I cannot run due to a knee injury during a half-marathon. No worries about safety, I walk on a no-vehicle crossing trail at a park.

I just listened to the TWIM episode regarding the Smallpox Vaccine and military members. As a member of the Army Medical Service Corps and also having received the Smallpox vaccine, I can tell you a lot a Soldiers do not fully understand the Vaccine. When I received my vaccine, we were herded into a room. A nurse stood in the front and briefed us on the numerous vaccines we were to receive along with the whole process for medical clearance station at the Soldiers' Readiness Program (SRP). The SRP is a program to ensure Soldiers are medically ready to deploy to various combat zones, in my case Iraq (e-Rock, not i-Rack). This occurs usually in a day with many other training events. The focus of the Soldiers can be very low during this process. Although they briefed us on the hazards of the smallpox vaccine, it is easy to understand that all of the information was glossed over by many of the Soldiers. Nearly all Soldiers do not have the microbiology understanding as you and I do. Therefore, they do not understand that touching the site once and lightly can spread the virus.

The vaccine site takes about 40 days to fully heal, with the infectious scab falling off at around Day 30. Mine fell off at Day 35. Throughout this time, Soldiers can forgot the information they have received and can forget that the scab is infectious. This is especially true as most people understand that a scab in general is part of the healing process and is not infectious. Furthermore, the site can be very itchy for some. I remember just wanting to scratch it because it was so bad at times. The information provided to us with the vaccine is to change the band-aid daily. When taking a shower, do not dry the site with a towel, rather let it air dry and then cover it with a new band-aid. Any contact such as wrestling, hand-to-hand combat, or other forms of physical contact are prohibited until the scab falls off.

I must admit that I am 100% a nerd. Figuring that I would receive the vaccine once in my life, I decided to document the site every day. I recorded 42 days of the vaccine process with photos each day. I attached photos of my arm (no HIPAA violation, of course) at Day 4, 11, 14 (with the sunken center), 20, 35 (when the scab fell off), and 36. I do apologize for the clarity of the images. I wish I would have had an object to judge the size of the infection, but I was taking these photos myself.

Thank you and keep up the good work,


[I posted Casey's photos at Virus talk - vrr]

Lance writes:

Dear Vincent Alan and Rich,

I would like to mildly disagree with you on hepatitis B vaccine as discussed on TWiV 130. The risk of an infant aquiring hepatitis B IF they are in a low risk population is extremely low, and therefore their chance of passing it on also very low indeed. In fact the chance is so low that in some countries (such as the UK where I come from) the relevant authorities don't recommend routine hepatitis B vaccination. See below for two links to the UK department of health recommendations on routine vaccination, which don't include hepatitis B. The public health benefit of hepatitis B vaccine in low risk populations is very different from vaccines such as measles, polio and influenza which are much more likely to occur and to be transmitted (e.g. 14 500 cases of measles in France in the last three years according to today's ProMED mail). I felt that you didn't do full justice to the difference between hepatitis B and some of the more infectious childhood illnesses. All that only applies to low risk populations, and in the UK people from areas or communities of high prevalence or for some other reason at high risk are vaccinated against and screened for hepatitis B. Indeed in my own practice (infectious diseases) we do alot of blood borne virus work and vaccinate alot in groups such as HIV+, HCV+, etc.

Having said that, my own view would actually be that if the public health authorities have taken a decision that universal hepatitis B vaccine should be used, then physicians and the public should abide by that decision. Certainly if I had children I would jump at the chance to have them vaccinated against hepatitis B if the opportunity was there. I just wanted to make the point that someone in a low risk group refusing hepatitis B vaccine is not in the same league as, for example, refusing MMR, even if the reason is unfounded.

UK dept of health links:



Keep up the great work, I really enjoying all your podcasts and I continue to learn alot.



Wellcome Trust Clinical Postdoctoral Fellow


[rationale for vaccinating for hep B at birth:http://pediatrics.about.com/od/weeklyquestion/a/0408_hepb_vac.htm]

Komal writes:

I had a question regarding TWiV episode 131, "A REOstat for cancer". Can reovirus therapy also be effective against hematologic cancers, like leukemias, or would it only work for solid tumors?

Columbia University, Class of 2012

Shreela writes:

I am curious to know if scientific reporting also brings into picture a vast majority of ?public engagement? wherein a variety of stakeholders can participate in a discourse in a way that the plurality of views notifies research priorities and scientific policies. Also does the lack of proper scientific reporting advocate the mushrooming of cafes scientifiques, where no scientists are really involved, but it is the lay persons who have a deep desire to know more about the science, discuss amongst themselves. Is the aim achieved in the end? That of getting erudite knowledge of science and technology into people!

Haejung writes:

When a new virus emerges, when do governments decide to intervene (e.g. developing a vaccine against it)? Is there a specified mortality rate or number of infected people that is used as criterion?

Adriana writes:

While it is clear that phylogenetic analyses of HIV can be extremely useful in solving criminal cases of sexual crimes (TWiV110), is it fair to consider someone with the disease a ?deadly weapon?? Criminalization of HIV potentially places those who test positive at risk for further discrimination and social prejudice. By classifying a subset of the population as inherently dangerous, what kinds of societal impacts would this have on disease control? Would HIV positive individuals decrease or increase?


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