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Ebola Virus explained


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TWiV 103 Letters

Anttoni writes


Thank you for your great program!

Im a material enginer/organic chemist student and i have developed a interest in virology while listening to your program. I found your program when asking around in www.reddit.com for good scientific podcasts to listen while biking to work or lectures.

I'm still listening to the past episodes of Twiv, so im not shure if you have allready digested this information.

I recollect that you spoke in your "live-podcast" about the GlaxoSmithKline vaxine Pandemrix having a new, untested adjuvant.

Now it seems that that adjuvant can cause narcolepsy in 12-16 year old children (http://www.thl.fi/en_US/web/en/pressrelease?id=22930). As there seems to be some evidence of narcolepsy being caused by a autoimmune disease (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4081225.stm), is it possible that the adjuvant causes a overeaction while trying to enhace the immune responce? or could the inactivated virus be the main cause? I know this is a hard question that probably has no answers yet, but as a novice in virology id like to hear what the experts have to say.. ;)

Also, as the cases have emerged only in Finland and Sweden, whom both have quite homogenic population, could the ammount of narcoleptic symptoms (that seem to be higher then in a normal influenza) be caused by a mutation in the population or could screening in these countrys be different (both have national healthcare for all)?

Thank you for the good work you all put into this!

Anttoni (just say Anthony ;)

ps. I'd love to hear a episode about virus-free surfcaces via selfcleening coating and what is the mecanism and how these surfaces are tested/used in laboratories and in the field. Thanks!

Stann writes:

Hello Vince and company. I was listening to a previous episode of Twiv today, and enjoying a banter between yourself and Dick about virus transmission. The topic was that all viruses evolve towards increased transmission, and away from lethality. Over time, it would be safe to assume that all viruses will eventually become something akin to rhinovirus, spreading like wildfire all through their host population, but rarely, if ever, killing a host. I thought of an interesting question I would like to ask: if all viruses evolve away from lethality, why did they evolve it in the first place? What about the lethal viruses that are around today? Why haven't they lost their lethality? Are they new viruses, that haven't been given enough time to evolve? The only answer I could come up with when posing these questions to myself is that the viruses that can jump between species evolve to reduce lethality to their natural host, not their incidental host. That would only explain those viruses that can do so, but not viruses such as polio with only one host. I would be very interested to hear everyone's opinion, if an answer even exists, thanks.


NS, Canada

Kate writes:

Hi, TWIV team!

I love your podcast and the wealth of knowledge you make available to the general public!

My question is about viruses that effect animals: do animals experience viral infections in the same or a similar way as humans? In humans, usually there are physical symptoms that indicate a viral infection. Is this same in all animals or at least some animals?

Thanks and keep up the excellent podcasting and “lame” jokes… I love ‘em!


Eric writes:

Hey guys, I've been listening to the podcast for a while now. I happened across it in itunes and have been hooked ever since. I suppose you could say I'm writing this as lay person, since my background is in nursing, and not in microbiology. This thought occured to me as you were talking about Norovirus and the routes of transmission being the fecal oral route. I have read elsewhere that the typical scent has a weight of about 760 nanograms, and I have also read that a "typical" virus wieghs in at around 10 femtograms (0.00001 nangrams). You may see where I'm heading with this train of thought..... For smell to have weight, it has to have substance............so I guess what I'm asking is, is the amount of fecal particulate passed in flatus sufficient enough to transmit a significant viral load, and possibly transmit Norovirus? This may be the wierdest question and or hypothesis ever presented, but just like many things in life, you'll never know unless you ask!

Keep up the great work guys,

Eric LPN


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