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TWiP 63 letters


Helen writes:


As a new listener, I don't know whether you've later corrected this or not, but you got several important things wrong in describing the antebellum South in the first episode on Hookworm. They did have machines, and they made good use of them. What they did not have was factories, because they were making plenty of money farming on the backs of unpaid slaves.

The first Africans arrived in Jamestown in the early 1600's, not long after the European settlers arrived. (You said the 1830's.) The cotton gin was invented in 1793. It made cotton farming *far* more profitable, greatly increasing the slave trade until the international slave trade was banned in 1808. Internal slave trading continued, and the slave population continued to grow dramatically because the slave women were forced to have as many children as possible. Children born to female slaves became slaves, whether their fathers were slave or free. "Due to its inadvertent effect on American slavery, the invention of the cotton gin is frequently cited as one of the ultimate causes of the Civil War." The American South provided two thirds of the world supply of cotton by the start of the Civil War.

So hookworm must have been endemic long before the Civil War. There wasn't much more introduction after 1808. However, substantial parts of the South were still under Native American control, and thus perhaps free of hookworm, until the Trail of Tears forced relocation in 1830, and the land was sold for agricultural use.

Also, there was slavery in the north, though certainly not as much. There were still slaves in New Hampshire and New Jersey until the emancipation proclamation in 1865. Other northern states had banned it earlier. Southerners brought their slaves with them when they came north. You can see George Washington's slave quarters in Philadelphia across the street from the Liberty Bell. Slaves who got their freedom in various ways migrated north.

The American history mistakes start about 10 minutes into the episode.

Thanks for a great podcast!

Anna writes:

Hi Dickson and Vincent,

I recently started listening to TWIP and TWIV, and I love them both! It's been hard trying to catch up and listen to them all (needless to say, I'm not even close).

I'm wondering if you guys know of any neotropical parasites (or viruses for that matter, I just thought parasites might be more likely) that live some part of their lives in both snails and bats.

I'd appreciate any thoughts you may have :)

Thanks so much!!

Neva writes:

Hi TWIP Twosome,

A story about how the US planned to weaponize bats during WWII.
Ed Yong tweeted this. What a batty tale.
You guys are da bomb,

Neva in Buda TX

Shane writes:

Hi Dickson and Vincent,

I listen to every episode of Twiv, Twip and Twim and often follow along with Wikipedia to help me understand terms i am not familiar with and also check out most of your picks.

I also watch Monsters Inside Me with my 12 year old daughters. I am up to Season 2, Episode 3 and was just wondering if you (Dickson) were still advising on this show?

In this episode a man got very ill and his spleen swelled to 5 times it's normal size, after a battery of tests finally a test for leishmaniasis came back positive, would this be visceral leishmaniasis?

I didn't pick this as I would expect some sort of skin lesion. Also they treated him with anti-biotics and he recovered, I am only a computer programmer but I would not think anti biotics would be the recommended treatment for leishmaniasis

Thanks for the awesome work of the entire TWIx crew puts into producing these podcasts

Shane from Australia
P.S. It's a balmy 20 degrees C at 11pm

Bernadeta writes:

Dear TwiP'ers,

I recently found out that when my mum was pregnant with me she was tested for toxoplasmosis, and it turned out that she had very high titres of IgG against toxoplasma. However, she took no treatment, and had absolutely no symptoms of disease. I turned out ok, I think, so it doesn't seem to have done anything bad. So I was wondering, are all pregnant women tested for toxoplasmosis and if so why? My mum was pregnant in 1992 and it was in Lithuania, so I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed from that time or have always been different in US. Does carriage of toxoplasma pose any threats for pregnant women and their foetuses? Also, Is it likely that I now have antibodies against toxoplasma because my mother was infected while pregnant?

Best wishes,




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