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TWiP 32 Letters

Raihan writes:

Hi Guys,

I saw this video during the course of listening to TWiP. Is there any parasitic truth behind this phenomenon?

Amazing Podcast. You guys are revolutionizing education.


from @Sophie on Twitter:

Please do a TWiP on Baylisascaris procyonis

Jim writes:

TWIP 26 on the schistosomes was equally interesting. I did some serious thinking about a swimming episode done in Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam in 1971, but never had any problems, yet. I heard that shistosomes either stopped or prevented invasion of Quemoy and Matsu Islands by the Chinese by wading across an isthmus probably in the early 1900's. Neat analogy with Schwarzenegger.

Smithfield, VA

Suzanne writes:

I think most wild salmon are caught at sea. Would any parasites they picked up as youth in rivers stick with them then?

I've been told that from an economic/environmental point of view Alaska does a very good job fishing (and not overfishing) for wild salmon. That's one reason I buy Alaskan wild salmon. I don't think I'll stop, but most of what I buy is canned and cooked. Or smoked. I do like salmon sushi occasionally, though... hmmmmmm.

Chad writes:

I came across an organism named Naegleria fowleri while I was going off on tangents from a wikipedia search.
This looks like an interesting organism for your podcast, (assuming it is considered a parasite.)

Thank you,

Jim writes:

Prof Despommier:

In your excellent TWIV 22 about hookworms you noted that after the Civil War lethargy was a major problem in the South due to hookworm infection. My local newspaper today contained a long article about difficulties US troops have in training and working with Afghan troops, stating in part that "...American forces often characterized their Afghan counterparts as drug abusers and thieves who were also incompetent, corrupt and lazy with 'repulsive hygiene.'" Do you know of parasites in that part of the world which could lead to a person being seen as incompetent and lazy, especially if they have poor hygiene, or if studies have been made to identify prominent parasites in Afghanistan or that region? No other details about these characteristics were offered in the article, so we don't know, for example, if the repulsive hygiene description is by necessity, due to cultural differences, or laziness.


Smithfield, VA

Alberto writes:

Dear Vince and Dickson

Following the release of TWiP #27 (Trematodes) I attended grand rounds at our hospital where an interesting case was presented that was coincidentally relevant to this recent episode.

A middle aged man presented at our hospital with severe liver dysfunction and was eventually found to have a Fasciola hepatica infection (a single egg was seen in a stool sample). The CT and NMR scans clearly showed tracks of necrotic tissue in the liver but the most impressive graphic was a video of the gall bladder ultrasound where multiple flukes could be seen moving in and out of the field of view of the scanner.

The presenting infectious disease registrar believes the source of infection was fresh watercress consumed with a traditional Lebanese dish of raw beef (Kebbeh nayyeh). The watercress was obtained from the patient's friend in Forster on the Northen New South Wales coast, in sheep country.

Apparently there have been other cases of F. hepatica infection including one in Melbourne associated with cultivated watercress.

I am still catching-up on old episodes of both TWip and TWiV. I look forward to hearing more about molecular hydrogen generation by parasites. Is anybody looking at cloning the enzymes involved in this pathway for commercial exploitation.

Keep up the amazing effort guys.
Molecular Haematology Lab, Institute of Haematology
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

Ryan writes:

Just so you know...

I could listen to Bob tell stories all day long! Great episode, guys!

Ryan Rogers
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Possum Kingdom Hatchery

Jim writes:

Professor Despommier,

I realize both you and Dr Racaniello are concerned about public health issues, but this seemed at first glance to be of greater interest to a parasitologist than a virologist. However, please don't prevent Vince from commenting. So, may I get your comments about this Thirstaid Bag from Britain (http://www.bwtechnologies.com/thirstaid_how.html). Despite its small size it looks like another possible item for my emergency equipment box for use in a local disaster, or for travel anywhere water quality is questionable. It's compact, tough and lightweight and has a filter shelf life of 5 years. Of course some iodine pills or small bottle of clorox would be much cheaper, so is it a cost effective item? I wonder, also, how temperature affects the filter and also how a user in the field could test the water it produces to verify filter effectiveness. For example it could be on the shelf for 4.5 years and have just produced some 200 or 300 liters of water out of its 350 maximum. The manufacturer says the filters are stamped with a production date and once placed in use are effective for a year, or I presume, the 350 liters. Let's say the bag and a 3oz bottle of clorox are stored in a car glove box or car trunk in Florida for 2 years and then in Massachusetts for 2 years, before a need for them occurs. Do you think both will be as effective as when produced?


Smithfield, VA

James writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

I have finally caught up with all the TWIP podcasts! In October, I will start a position as an assistant professor in host-pathogen interactions at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. My background is in biochemistry and bioinformatics. I completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh on genomics of parasitic nematodes and a postdoc in Toxoplasma gondii at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. In my new position, I hope to return to nematodes - if the funders will permit me!

Although my work is focused on genomics, I readily see the importance of classical parasitology, e.g. taxonomy and systematics, cell biology and ecology. In recent podcasts, Dickson has referred to the end of the golden age of parasitology and the closure of parasitology departments. Rest assured that there are still groups of Young Turks telling anyone who will listen and shouting at those who won't about the importance of all aspects of parasitology, not just DNA-sequencing.

I want to thank you both for your efforts in TWIP - I continue to learn a lot, especially the history and social aspects. With respect to the basic biology, I am continually blown away by the invasion and survival mechanisms of these parasitic critters. Trying to understand them better is what gets me out of bed in the morning, that and a cup of tea!

Listening to Robert Gwadz was inspirational and I look forward to hearing from other legends in the field.

best wishes


Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
University of Calgary


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