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TWiP 43 Letters

Robin writes:

Trematodes are commonly referred to as flukes. This term can be traced back to the Saxon name for flounder, and refers to the flattened, rhomboidal shape of the worms.

Robin writes:

re men stealing meat from lions

Check out this video on YouTube:

Liesbeth writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

Let me start thanking you for encouraging me to carry a healthier life. Since taking the bus to the lab each day meant a 20 mins ride, and your podcasts are usually longer, I decided to start waking up earlier and walk every day instead, that way I can hear the whole episode! I feel somehow infected by a parasite podcast that modifies my behaviour in order to be listened, reaching its objective when I arrive at the lab commenting on the last episode heard.

After your discussion on the origins of the term Loa loa, I did some internet research and came up with an article published in 1991 by John D. Ruby and John E. Hall. Since it's really short, I copied it here for you to read:

"It has recently been called to our attention that the word 'loa', used for centuries, first by Africans and later by parasitologists, to refer to the 'eye worm', also appears in the terminology of voodoo or Vodun where it refers to a large pantheon of deities that may possess one's soul or being. The word 'loa' may be derived from the Yoruba word 'l'awo' meaning 'mystery', but according to Bourguignon its origin remains uncertain. To the devotees of vodun, the noon hour, when the sun casts no shadow, is a perilous time. A man without a shadow is a man without a soul and therefore vulnerable to possession by such spirits as 'loa'. To ward of these spirits, believers wear amulets and cast spells. African vodun evolved in Benin, formerly Dahomey, and was brought to Haiti with slavery during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Since both adults and microfilariae of the 'eye worm' Loa are diurnal, with maximum activity occurring at noon (when the West African would be most susceptible to spirit possession), and since West African vodun and the 'eye worm' share a common geographic origin, we have reached the tentative conclusion that one is probably the etymological source for the other. Whether the helminthological Loa predated the anthropological one remains a matter of conjecture"

Knowing something about the origin of the name and the way the parasite was discovered really helps to remember things better!

Looking forward to your next infectious TWIP,

Todd writes:

Found the following reference for the origin of ‘Loa'. Still don't know what it means...

Love the show!

Laboratory Technician III
Georgia Perimeter College

Peter writes:

Just to get you started <grin>

Alice writes:

Drs. Racaniello and Despommier:

Did you see this about Toxoplasma gondii?


Spencer writes:

Dear Vincent and Dickson,

Here is a news piece very relevant for TWIP: The first congenital case of Chagas disease in the US. With a great video from Dr. Jim McKerrow.

Here's the link:

Thanks and keep up the great episodes!

Spencer MD PhD


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