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Zika Virus in the USA

On this episode of Virus Watch we cover three Zika virus stories: the first human trial of a Zika virus vaccine, the first local transmission of infection in the United States, and whether the virus is a threat to participants in the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Read More

The Zika Effect

Having worked on viruses for over 40 years, I know a fair number of people in the field, and I am amazed at how many of them have started to work on Zika virus. What exactly is attracting virologists to this emerging virus?

There are probably many reasons why Zika virus would be of interest t... Read More

Polio-like paralysis in California

Recently a number of children in California have developed a poliomyelitis-like paralysis. The cause of this paralysis is not yet known, and information about the outbreak is scarce. However, acute-flaccid paralysis is not uncommon (California would be expected to report about 75 cases a year, b... Read More

Why do viruses cause disease?

Virulence, the capacity to cause disease, varies markedly among viruses. Some viruses cause lethal disease while others do not. For example, nearly all humans infected with rabies virus develop a disease of the central nervous system which ultimately leads to death. In contrast, most humans are ... Read More

Virologists, start your poliovirus destruction!

I have worked on poliovirus for over thirty-six years, first as a posdoctoral fellow with David Baltimore in 1979, and then in my laboratory at Columbia University. The end of that research commences this year with the destruction of my stocks of polioviruses. Read More

MMP #16: Insights into Toxoplasma gondii parasites

Host: Jeff Fox with special guest, Emma Wilson.


Emma H. Wilson of the University of California, Riverside, talks with Jeff Fox about efforts, with her collaborators to determine more precisely how Toxoplasma gondii parasites disrupt the mammalian brain—in this case, the brains of mice... Read More

What we are not afraid to say about Ebola virus

In a recent New York Times OpEd entitled What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola, Michaeal Osterholm wonders whether Ebola virus could go airborne:

You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one... Read More

Does the hologenome address the whole picture?

How do we define the genetic makeup of an individual? Is it the genetic material found in each cell of that individual (that’s not entirely accurate; mutations and recombinatorial differences can lead to multiple genomes in one individual). And what about the genes carried by our microbiome? The... Read More

Acute flaccid paralysis of unknown etiology in California

In February 2014 I wrote about children in California who developed a poliomyelitis-like paralysis, also called acute flaccid paralysis or AFP. However, the cause of this paralysis was not known. The CDC has released its study of these cases and concludes “The etiology of AFP with anterior myeli... Read More

An unexpected benefit of inactivated poliovirus vaccine

The polio eradication and endgame strategic plan announced by the World Health Organization in 2014 includes at least one dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). Since 1988, when WHO announced the polio eradication plan, it had relied exclusively on the use of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV)... Read More

Dispatches from ASM Microbe - Friday

ASM Microbe is the new conference that merges the former General Meeting with the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) to make one microbial sciences-packed meeting with something for everyone. Why institute one new meeting instead of maintaining two separate ... Read More

Your viral past

Did you ever wonder what different virus infections you have had in your lifetime? Now you can find out with just a drop of your blood and about $25.

Immune defense systems of many hosts produce antibodies in response to virus infections. These large proteins, which are generally virus specif... Read More

TWiP 116: One drug to rule them all

The TWiPtoids solve the case of the Thai Fisherman with Chronic Diarrhea, and reveal a potential new drug for treatment of leishmaniasis, Chagas diseases, and sleeping sickness.


Hosts: Vincent Racaniel... Read More

PhatoMap of New York Subway System

The microbes that call the New York City subway system home are mostly harmless, but include samples of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to drugs — and even DNA fragments associated with anthrax and Bubonic plague — according to a citywide microbiome map published today by Weill Corne... Read More

Age of the Microzoo

In 3500 BCE, Egyptian rulers built a menagerie of exotic creatures within the ancient capital of Hierakonpolis. Archaeologists have found 112 animal skeletons at this site: the first zoo on Earth. But from this earliest exhibition of the natural world through today’s most famous animal displays,... Read More

Viral genomes in 700 year old caribou scat

Recovering viral genomes from ancient specimens can provide information about viral evolution, but not many old nucleic acids have been identified. A study of 700 year old caribou feces reveals that viruses can be protected for long periods of time – under the right conditions. Read More

Microbiology, Creativity, and Extra Credit!

I have long believed that there are many ways for students to learn. In several of my classes, I encourage students to use "creative" approaches to explore course concepts. In the Fall of 2015, here is what my micronauts in my Microbiology course at the University of Puget Sound came up with..... Read More

Merry Luxmas and Happy Microbial Holidays to All!

Here is my annual blogpost using #MicrobialSupremacy to wish all readers a very, very happy holiday season. I do this GFP and prodiosin, as well as luciferase! Enjoy a tiny bit of microbial art, relevant to the season? Read More

Bacterial Messages From Beyond?

H.P. Lovecraft fan and composer Reber Clark (https://reberclark.bandcamp.com/) collaborated with my undergraduate student Ruth Isenberg and myself on a science+music+HPL video. When a log phase culture of Photobacterium leignothi is poured into a Petri dish, and 10 second exposures are taken ev... Read More

Zika Virus On and In the Brain - @profvrr has a new blog!

Read in near real-time a virologist's experiments on Zika Virus. Now with its fourth post the Zika Diaries aims to illuminate the public on what it takes to do research on this emerging outbreak. From the Racaniello Lab at Columbia Univ. -

"Now that my laboratory obtained a number of differe... Read More
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