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TWiV 185 Letters

Ed writes:

Vincent, Dick, Rich, Alan et al.,

A couple more visual science-type picks for you to follow on from Kathy Spindler’s pick – APoD

The stunning new Pursuit of Light video from NASA:

The MRC Biomedical Picture of the Day (BPoD):

I originally found both through following Joe Hanson (@jtotheizzoe,, whose blog I guess could be another pick.

Keep it up!


Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York

Kate writes:

Dear team-Twiv,

Firstly, thanks for all the wonderful podcasts over the years! It's been great to regularly tune in to a more relaxed forum of academic discussion throughout my years of virology study.

I'm in the final year of my PhD at the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Zoology, and my PhD research has centred on the risk of viral zoonotic disease emerging from a fruit bat population in Ghana, West Africa.

I really enjoyed the most recent Twiv episode (183) that covered Jan Drexler's paper about bats as reservoirs of major mammalian paramyxoviruses. That said though, there were a number of comments made on the show about a number of 'firsts' in this paper (e.g. first specific study of paramyxoviruses in bats, first evidence of virus closely-related with mumps in an animal host, etc) that weren't correct.

I published an (admittedly much smaller) study in the Journal of General Virology earlier this year showing that bats host a large diversity of paramyxoviruses, including a virus closely related with Mumps.

Just trying to keep you on your toes, and thanks again for all the great podcasts.

Kind regards,


Steven writes:

Hey TWIV-dudes,

I just left a voicemail – but I’ll send this follow-up in case my message was not understandable. I think that someone out there in the TWIVaverse may be able to either answer or tackle the question that I pose.

First off, let me say: great podcast. You gentlemen are truly doing a service to the field and to society.

Let me get right into it. I’m a graduate student in virology at the University of Rochester. I work with influenza, and I just saw a great seminar this morning about gathering information from clinical/epidemiological studies after they’ve already been completed. It got me thinking of an interesting set of data that may or may not exist out there as of yet.

Are the severe (hospitalized) cases of H5N1 (bird flu) at all correlative to previous vaccination? In other words, of the 600 or so reported cases, did those individuals ever receive a flu shot? Did those who died have a higher or lower incidence of previous vaccination?

It could be an interesting question, just thought I’d throw it out there. OK, back to my experiments.



Don writes:

Greetings My Virome Idols,

I am a Registered Nurse with nearly 20 years in the emergency department (ED) as well as a Army Reserve Nurse Corps officer and have been a loyal listener since your team began producing TWIV. Your podcast has been a vital resource for me in both my professional realms in better preparing me for front line ED nursing as well as my military duties in the Asia-Pacific region. Till now I have not felt the need to email a question to such an esteem group such as yours, that is until this week, and I hope you can answer these concerns.

As background,I current work as a civilian staff nurse in a large military medical center's emergency department and we were notified about a few cases of a "influenza" not covered by the current vaccine from troops returning from Japan. All reported cases have generally been mild, lasting less than a week and present with a febrile respiratory symptoms, not unlike any influenza like illness (ILI) that we see in the ED on a daily/nightly basis. The only difference is if the history includes recent travel from Japan and/or participation in the exercise in Japan over this last month. If the history does include the Japan travel and have ILI symptoms we are instructed by our infection control department to mask the patient and segregate from the general ED waiting population, especially infants, children, pregnant women, and elderly patients. These patients are to be evaluated as any other ILI patient, to include swabs for influenza virus screening and treated as would any other suspected influenza patient. Also, we were instructed that Tamiflu was to be used in "severe" cases. Our other duty in this area is to maintain a log of these patients that present to our ED and forward it to infection control office and the Command Suite as part of the daily report to the hospital commander. To date I am only personally aware of two cases.

My questions are: are any of you aware of a influenza virus from Japan that is not covered by the current seasonal vaccination and do you feel this represents a significant risk? Our measures are not different than what we did doing the H1N1 outbreak and seem reasonable. Most of our patients are active duty military and are reliable to follow instructions and comply with masking and segregation. My question here is are these measure sufficient? Since all staff are required to have been vaccinated with seasonal influenza vaccination on a annual basis as a condition of employment, how much risk does the staff have from potential infected patients and is there a number of cases seen before we raise our level of PPE use (N95 mask)? And one last question that I have always wanted to ask the TWIV Lords, after 20 years of ED nursing I have been hit with, splashed on, and exposed to more bugs than I can ever care to recall and yet I have not suffered any illness that I could remotely link to work exposure. I rarely even get a cold and I don't recall and ILI in years. Has my immune system developed to such a state from repeated exposure in the ED or is it just my nature?

I thank you for your podcast, I greatly enjoy the weekly banter, especially the witty quips from Dr. Dove.


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