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TWiP 40 Letters

David writes:

Love the TWIPs! I'm a helminth user (25 hookworm for allergies), so your programs are fascinating!

Dr. Racaniello, after listening to TWIP 33 where you were discussing the history of your surname, I thought I'd give your listeners a way to remember your obviously Italian name. It's the rap song, "Black and Yellow"! lol http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ITKR7OZyyOw

Peter writes:

Dear Professors,

please do NOT abandon your style ever!!

Even if there´s some privacy in there, be it fishing or simply the weather or whatever, it has to be in your podcasts because it makes them authentic! Even more, talking like you with so much commitment and humor increases the amount of learning. You know why!

I always tried to be a good teacher (for natural sciences at a german secondary school since more than 20 years) exactly in that way.

And scientific researches in recent years have approved that the brain of all ages learns better and more effectively with these attributes.

Here you are:


And remember, just because informations cause an emotional response, and that means attention is rising:

http://spots.wustl.edu/SPOTS%20manual%20Final/SPOTS%20Manual%204%20Learning%20Strategies.pdf (page 7)

Please keep on with your excellent work, you are pioneers in science and "face-to-face" interaction,

greetings from Wiesbaden, Germany


Richard writes:

Dear Dickson & Vincent,

I recently delivered a lecture to nursing students at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Tanzania, on a subject that Dickson is very well versed, Trichinella.

I am a medical entomologist & have no knowledge of Trichinella so quickly had to do some reading & piece together a basic lecture. In the process of preparing the lecture I was left with a couple of questions that I hope Dickson can answer.

1- In East Africa the species is Trichinella nelsoni. My understanding is that there have been very few human cases reported (200 ish) and they have all come from eating undercooked warthog or bushpig. In Tanzania pork meat from domestic pigs is commonly eaten (on a sidenote pork is called "kiti moto" in swahili which translates to "hot chair"- possibly because if the muslim population of Tanzania get caught secretly eating pork they will be in big trouble, or the "hot chair"). I was left wondering why T.nelsoni has not made the jump from wild pigs & warthogs into domestic pigs? I was asked this question in class & my explanation was that it could be due to geographic isolation as warthog/wildpigs are mainly found in "bush" and savannah areas where usually only Maasai are found. Maasai keep cattle, sheep, & goats but not pigs. Do you think this is a reasonable explanation? How would you have answered this question?

With rapid population growth in Tanzania do you think expanding human settlements could result in T.nelsoni making the jump into domestic pigs & resulting in more human cases?

2- In the excellent book, "Manson's Tropical Diseases" the T. nativa Arctic cycle shows that polar bears can become infected by eating raw walrus and seal meat. How do seals & walrus become infected with Trichinella? Don't they eat fish??

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best wishes


Ethan writes:

Hello Vincent & Dickson!

I'd like to thank you for the superb podcasts I've had the pleasure of enjoying the past few months. Not having any previous interest in parasitism or virology, I downloaded a few podcasts on a whim and was immediately hooked!

Working a night shift by myself in the biology building of a university calls for TWIx podcasts for entertainment. While listening to the TWIP episode on hookworm, I noticed a ton of slides left out in a lab room full of microscopes. What was on them? Parasites galore! I took the liberty of finding slides of hookworm in various stages of life cycles and got to follow along during the podcast and actually see with my own eyes real examples of what you guys were describing under the microscope - it was awesome!

I really enjoy being able to learn from TWIP being a non-scientist (although I'm going back to school for physics soon, so I'll be in the scientist club before too long!). I have to look things up to follow along in TWIV, and TWIM is often way over my head, but I try to listen to both anyway, they're always interesting.

I've since listened to all the TWIPs and would love to hear new ones added more often. I'm also looking forward to adding Dickson's new book West Nile Story right beside my recently read copy of Parasite Rex.

Sorry for the lengthiness of the email!

Thanks again,


Rebecca writes:

Hello again!

Thanks for mentioning my email and talking about my obscure profession! Cytotechs screen pap smears in addition to fine needle aspirations from just about any body site. A normal day consists mainly of screening pap smears, but I get to look at some lung, thyroid, liver cells, etc. Legally, we have to screen all paps at an appropriately licensed lab with a Medical Director and Technical supervisor. Gone are the days of screening in your underwear at home - well, maybe some folks can still screen in their underwear. My workplace frowns on it. A lot of slides are still hand screened on an regular ol' light microscope, but some are analyzed by a computer first. All slides must be screened by a cytotech or pathologist - the computer just uses an proprietary algorithm to determine the areas of the slide with the highest probability of abnormal cells to guide our screening. We send all slides we diagnose as abnormal to a Pathologist. He or she has the final say. In addition to looking for cancerous or precancerous cells, we also look for non-cancerous infectious agents. HSV and CMV produce some gorgeous cells! Check google images for HSV or CMV cytology. As far as it being kind of boring to just look through the scope all day: you have do enjoy looking through the microscope or you will quickly go insane in this line of work. I personally enjoy the focused attention this work requires - it's like mediation for me. Bonus: I get to listen to awesome podcasts while helping people. Additionally, the microscope rarely back-sasses me, so I don't have to deal with any workplace conflict or stress:) Thanks again for the podcast!

Dan writes:

Hello gentlemen,

My name is Dan and I'm considering becoming an epidemiologist. I discovered your podcast and am slowly working my way through all of the old episodes, which I find extremely fascinating.

Forgive me if it's already been mentioned on your show as I am listening to the episodes in chronological order and haven't yet arrived at the most recent one, but I would like to recommend a book called "Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests" by Rosemary Drisdelle. I recently purchased this novel and it served as a wonderful primer for your show and as fantastic "thought food".

If you can recommend any books, journals, or other publications that would be helpful for a budding young student such as myself I'd be very appreciative. I know for certain that with my next paycheck I'll be buying Mr. Despommier's "Parasitic Diseases".

Thank you very much for publishing this podcast! I'm very happy that I've discovered it.

Best regards,


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