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This Podcast Will Kill You
80 minutes | 10 days ago
Ep 64 Rubella: Timing is Everything
For many of us, rubella has simply come to mean the R in MMR, the routine childhood measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. But that hasn’t always been the case. There was once a time when the rubella virus routinely made front page news and was at the center of countless legal discussions. This week, we explore everything you’ve ever wanted to know about this virus. We start off by asking what this virus does to your body and how it can cross the placenta, leading to congenital rubella syndrome. Then we journey through the short but impactful history of this disease, from the discovery of the effects the virus can have on a developing fetus to the widespread epidemics that spurred on the development of a vaccine. Finally we wrap up with some much-needed good news about the global decline of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
79 minutes | a month ago
COVID-19 Chapter 13: Vaccines, Take 2
We’re back with another episode in our Anatomy of a Pandemic series on COVID-19. This time, our subject matter is the one everyone has been waiting for: vaccines. In this episode, with the help of two amazing guests, we attempt to answer all of your burning questions about the new vaccines for the virus that causes COVID-19. We walk you through the ins and outs of the technology behind these vaccines, the safety and regulation steps required for their approval, and some of the logistical challenges involved in their distribution. For this info-packed episode, we were so fortunate to be joined by Dr. Maria Sundaram (interview recorded Dec 14, 2020), postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto Center for Vaccine Preventable Diseases and fellow at ICES and Dr. Orin Levine (interview recorded Nov 24, 2020), Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As always, we wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our experts. If at the end of this interview, your curiosity about vaccines is not quite satisfied, check out the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker website, which is an incredible resource for pretty much anything you could ever want to know about these vaccines. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we’ve listed the questions below: Can you break down what the three potentially successful COVID-19 vaccines are and how each of them work? What are in these vaccines? What are the ingredients and what do they do? There has been some misunderstanding that these vaccines have the potential to give you COVID-19. Can you explain why that isn’t possible? Why are people being advised to wear a mask even after getting vaccinated? What does the timeline look like for these vaccines until we can go to the doctor or pharmacy and get one? Is it a valid concern that this vaccine was developed so rapidly? And could you walk us through some of the steps being taken to ensure safety and efficacy of a vaccine? Can you talk about what emergency use authorization means and whether we’ve seen this before and under what circumstances? Why should people be no more scared of this vaccine than the usual vaccines, like MMR and seasonal influenza? How likely is it that additional side effects we haven’t yet seen or long-term side effects will emerge later on? What do we know about the risk of vaccine-induced antibody-dependent enhancement with this vaccine? What do we know so far about the efficacy of these vaccines? Can you walk us through efficacy vs effectiveness in terms of vaccines? What do we know so far about how long immunity is expected to last from the various vaccines that are close to completion? What are some of the issues with clinical trials in vaccine development in terms of getting a representative subsection of the population and what does this mean for who may be able to get a vaccine once one is ready? Why do you still need to get vaccinated even if you’ve already had COVID-19? For our listeners who may know someone who is hesitant to receive the vaccine, what advice or reassurance can you give them that choosing to get one of these vaccines is a better option than taking your chances with COVID-19? What are the biggest hurdles to vaccine distribution here in the US? What are the biggest hurdles in terms of global distribution of the vaccine? And what is being done to address some of these challenges in vaccine access? We’ve heard about some countries pre-purchasing large stocks of vaccines, how may that affect the global availability especially in lower income countries? How might the availability of several different successful COVID-19 vaccines affect how different countries build their vaccine supply or distribution chain? Could you talk about how skepticism surrounding vaccines plays into not only vaccine development but administration, and what can be done to rebuild trust in those communities? How do you think this pandemic will change the way that we view either emerging infectious diseases or vaccines in the future? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
94 minutes | 3 months ago
Ep 60 Giving birth to "The Pill"
Well, TPWKY listeners, it has been a heck of a year, and it’s not even over yet! But one thing has come to an end: our third season. Given the profound implications these next couple of months will have on the future of health and security in the United States, for our season finale we chose to cover a topic that’s near and dear to our hearts and minds: birth control. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I know this IUD/patch/pill prevents pregnancy, but how exactly does it do that?” or “How on earth did someone come up with this pill and then get it legalized?” If so, you’re in luck. In this episode, we walk through the basics of how the most common hormonal contraceptives work and then journey through the history of the various birth control movements in the United States. Finally, we wrap up with some of the latest developments in birth control technology (male hormonal contraceptives, anyone?) as well as the major legal decisions impacting access to birth control. We want to thank all of you fantastic listeners who have been with us through this wild year. You have made it all worth it! And fear not - we’ll be back with season 4 before you know it. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the first episode drop of the next season! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
121 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep 56 Sickle Cell Disease: Invisible Illness, Enduring Strength
Neglected and ignored by the medical establishment throughout most of its history, sickle cell disease remains one of the most common (and commonly misunderstood) genetic conditions in the world. In this episode, we break down the myriad effects that one nucleotide substitution can have on the human body and discuss the basics of what it means when blood cells sickle. Continuing with the theme of the seen and unseen, we then turn to the history of sickle cell disease, a history of long-standing injustice and the unending fight to raise awareness and provide support for those impacted by the condition. And as always, we wrap up with a discussion on the current global status of sickle cell disease and some exciting new treatment options on the horizon. We are so honored and thrilled to be joined this episode by not one, not two, but three incredible guests! You’ll hear first from Marsha Howe and Sharif Tusuubira, who share with us some of their firsthand experiences living with sickle cell disease. And then in our current status section, Dr. Megan Hochstrasser from the Innovative Genomics Institute walks us through the mind-blowing genome editing approaches being used to treat genetic conditions such as sickle cell disease. You can follow Marsha on her website for her non-profit organization and blog “My Life With Sickle Cell” as well as through her social media channels: Twitter: @MarshaMLWSC, Instagram: @marsha_h181, Facebook: Marsha Howe. And make sure to check out B Positive Choir too! Twitter: @bpositivechoir and Instagram: @bpositivechoir. Learn more about Sharif Tusuubira’s amazing advocacy efforts on his website and through his social media channels: Twitter: @tkksharif, Instagram: @tkksharif, Facebook: Sharif Kiragga Tusuubira. You can also watch his 2017 talk in Washington, DC as a Mandela Washington Fellow. And to learn more about the futuristic-sounding research being done at the Innovative Genomics Institute (including using CRISPR to develop a faster, cheaper coronavirus test!), you can follow Megan (@thecrispress) and IGI (@igisci) on Twitter, or head to their website. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
84 minutes | 6 months ago
Ep 54 Wake Up and Smell the Caffeine
Are you one of the billions of people around the world who starts your day with a freshly brewed and deliciously aromatic cup of coffee or tea or maybe even hot chocolate? Or are you caffeine-avoidant, looking on at your coffee-addicted friends with confusion and maybe even pity? In either case, this episode is for you. We are joined by the one and only Matt Candeias of In Defense of Plants to tackle the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug: caffeine. First we get a taste of the massive history of the most popular caffeine-containing beverages, then we trace what exactly caffeine does in your body after that first scrumptious sip. And finally, we explore what role this compound has for those many, many plants that produce it. We hope you find this episode as stimulating as its subject! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
82 minutes | 7 months ago
Ep 52 Rinderpest: Moo Cows, Moo Problems
The second disease ever to be eradicated, rinderpest could be the most devastating and notorious infection you never knew existed. Though its name means “cattle plague”, the deadly rinderpest virus infected hundreds of species of animals during its long reign, and outbreaks of rinderpest left nothing but famine and ruin in their wake. In this episode, we start by taking you through the biology of one of the biggest killers we’ve ever faced. We then trace the long history of this feared disease, from fire festival rituals in Russia to the imperialist exploitation of the Great African Rinderpest Panzootic of the 1890s that paved the way for European colonial rule over a large part of the continent. Fortunately, this story ends happily as only one other has done so far - with complete and total eradication. You may have started this episode not knowing about rinderpest, but when you’re done, you won’t be able to stop talking about it. Trust us. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
112 minutes | 8 months ago
Ep 51 The Path of Most (Antibiotic) Resistance
No story of antibiotics would be complete without the rise of resistance. As promised in our last episode, this week we dive into what the WHO calls ‘one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today’ - antibiotic resistance. In the decades since their development, misuse and overuse of antibiotics has led to many becoming all but useless, and our world seems on the verge of plunging into a post-antibiotic era. How does resistance work? Where did it come from? Why did it spread so far so rapidly? Is there any hope? In this episode, we answer all these questions and more. First, we explore the many ways bacteria evade the weaponry of antibiotic compounds. Then we trace the global spread of these resistant bugs by examining the major contributors to their misuse and overuse. And finally we assess the current global status of antibiotic resistant infections (spoiler: it’s very bad) and search for any good news (spoiler: there’s a lot!). To chat about one super cool and innovative alternative to antibiotics, we are joined by the amazing Dr. Steffanie Strathdee (Twitter: @chngin_the_wrld), Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Co-Director at the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics. Dr. Strathdee provides a firsthand account of helping her husband, Dr. Tom Patterson, fight off a deadly superbug infection by calling on a long-forgotten method of treating bacterial infections: phage therapy. To read more about phage therapy and Dr. Strathdee’s incredible experiences, check out The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
83 minutes | 9 months ago
COVID-19 Ch 11: Modeling
The eleventh episode of our Anatomy of a Pandemic series has arrived, and just in time. Have you found yourself trying to sift through headlines claiming “this model predicts that” and “that model predicts this”, but you’re not sure where the truth really lies? Then this episode is for you. With the help of Dr. Mike Famulare from the Institute for Disease Modeling (interview recorded April 29, 2020), we walk through the basics of mathematical modeling of infectious disease, explore some of the current projections for this pandemic, and discuss some guidelines for evaluating these headline-making models. As always, we wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we’ve listed the questions below: What is a math model and what are some of the goals of mathematical modeling? So talking specifically now about infectious disease models, can you walk us through what the basic components are of an infectious disease model, like an SIR model? Where do you get the data that you use to estimate the parameters in an SIR model - what is based on actual data and what has to be estimated? Infectious disease outbreaks often have a curve-like shape, with the number of infected individuals on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. Can you explain why infectious disease epidemics tend to follow a curve? Can you talk us through some of the assumptions that you have to make when you're constructing one of these models and how that kind of relates to the uncertainty inherent within models? How might that uncertainty affect interpretation? What are some examples of the various ways we use infectious disease models in public health policy? Can you talk about how models might be used at various stages of a pandemic to guide public health measures? How might our use of models early on in a pandemic be different from the middle of one? Speaking specifically about COVID-19 now, can you talk about what a basic model for this pandemic might look like? Are models for COVID-19 using only lab-confirmed cases of the disease or clinical-confirmed cases as well? Looking back on these earlier models of COVID-19, what can we take away from the performance of these models? Is there any agreement among models as to what policies might be the best in terms of keeping cases and deaths as low as possible? For those of us who have no background in mathematical or statistical modeling, are there guidelines that we should use to evaluate these models or compare them? What should we (as in the general public) be taking away from these models? Are there any positive changes you hope to see come out of this pandemic, either as a member of the community or as a math modeler? For a deeper dive into the wonderful world of infectious disease models, we recommend checking out this recent video from Robin Thompson, PhD of Oxford Mathematics titled “How do mathematicians model infectious disease outbreaks?” The video was posted on April 8, 2020. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
49 minutes | 10 months ago
COVID-19 Chapter 6: Mental Health
Welcome to Chapter 6 of our Anatomy of a Pandemic series exploring the world of COVID-19. If you have made it this far in the series, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the information we’re throwing your way. You’re not alone. We were feeling a bit too deep down the rabbit hole as well. So we reached out to Rosemary Walker and Peter Rosencrans, two psychology doctoral students at the University of Washington to talk to us about the mental health impacts this pandemic has had and walk us through some coping strategies (interview recorded March 20, 2020). Hang in there, everyone. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we have listed the questions below: You are both in Seattle, which has been impacted longer than much of the US, so, how are you? (05:55) This is a brand new situation for all of us that's affecting so much more than our physical health.So what are we seeing in terms of some of the mental health outcomes? (09:21) What are some of the challenges that you, as mental health professionals, have faced so far and that you expect to appear in the future related to COVID-19? (15:59) What are some coping strategies that we could use to deal with some of these issues? (19:15) What are some resources for people who normally see a therapist, but who cannot now because of COVID-19? (31:43) How can we as individuals be good neighbors, community members, in this stressful time while still protecting our mental health? (36:50) Do you have any specific resources that our listeners could seek out? (41:09) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
49 minutes | 10 months ago
COVID-19 Chapter 2: Disease
This marks the second installment in our Anatomy of a Pandemic series, in which we discuss the various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this second chapter, we explore what we currently know about the disease itself, from symptom progression to incubation period and the role that asymptomatic individuals play in the transmission of disease. Our firsthand account, told from the perspective of a respiratory therapist, illustrates the severity of this disease and the frightening, yet very real, prospect of running out of medical equipment, protective gear, and hospital beds. We then discuss what we currently know about COVID-19 from a clinical disease perspective. We are joined by Dr. Colleen Kraft (interview recorded March 19, 2020), whose voice you may recognize from our first episode on coronaviruses. She helps to break down some of the disease-related questions sent in by our listeners. We wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we have listed the questions below: What does "respiratory droplet" transmission mean, and how is this different from something with "airborne" transmission? (15:08) What are the symptoms of COVID-19? (16:48) How long is the disease course, and how does this vary between mild vs severe symptoms? (18:45) What does "supportive care" mean in the context of caring for people who fall severely ill from COVID-19? (19:40) How much does viral load correlate with the severity of symptoms? (20:47) What is the incubation period of this disease, how long do people remain infectious, and are asymptomatic people contributing to the spread of disease? (22:22) What are the groups that are particularly at risk for severe disease? (24:00) Why do children seem to be more resistant to this infection? What about children who are immunocompromised, are they at risk? (27:40) What is the case fatality rate, and how might we expect it to change throughout the course of this pandemic? (29:09) Are there long term complications associated with COVID-19? (31:58) Is it possible to get re-infected if you get this virus and then recover? (32:54) The full article our firsthand account came from can be found here: https://www.propublica.org/article/a-medical-worker-describes--terrifying-lung-failure-from-covid19-even-in-his-young-patients See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
58 minutes | 10 months ago
COVID-19 Chapter 1: Virology
To discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are introducing Anatomy of a Pandemic, a series in which each episode tackles a particular aspect of COVID-19, from virus biology to clinical disease, from control efforts to epidemiological patterns, from vaccine development to mental health coping strategies during this uncertain time. And we’ve got a quarantini (and placeborita) recipe for each installment! In the first episode of this series, we tackle some of your questions about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is responsible for COVID-19 (aka COronaVIrus Disease-2019). Our episode begins with a firsthand account from Tiziano, a schoolteacher in northeastern Italy who has been living under the strict movement restrictions imposed by the Italian government in an attempt to limit the spread of the disease. Then, we review some of the basics about SARS-CoV-2 and RNA viruses in general. To help us discern fact from fiction, we seek the expertise of a virologist, Dr. Angela Rasmussen (interview recorded March 15, 2020), who answers some of the listener-submitted questions about the virus itself. We wrap up the episode by discussing the top five things we learned from our expert. To help you get a better idea of the topics covered in this episode, we have listed the questions below: What are the origins of this virus? Where did it come from? How can we tell whether this virus originated from one spillover event or multiple? What do we know about the mechanism of how this virus causes disease in humans? Are there multiple strains of SARS-CoV-2, and how do different strains of virus affect disease severity? Is there a risk of SARS-CoV-2 mutating into something more deadly? What is Remdesivir and how does it work? How does handwashing work to reduce transmission risk? How long can SARS-CoV-2 live on surfaces? What is the minimum infective dose of SARS-CoV-2? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
62 minutes | 10 months ago
Ep 46 Lactose Intolerance: Never trust a fart
Everyone loves a good poop story, don’t they? We certainly hope so, because our good friend Katie shares a fantastic one to kick off our episode on lactose intolerance. In this episode, we explore what lactose is and the symptoms that lactose non-digesters experience when they eat some sneaky cheese or ice cream. Then we explain that this episode is actually flipped - turns out that not being able to digest lactose is the normal state, and those of us who can are actually the mutants! We trace the origins of this mutant allele and how the persistence of pastoralism spread milk drinking far and wide. Where do we stand with lactose intolerance today? Tune in for that answer and for an abundance of milk facts to arm yourself with for the next pub trivia night. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
85 minutes | a year ago
Ep 44 Pertussis: Whoop Here It Is
[TRIGGER WARNING: see below] Whooping cough, that terrible childhood scourge, has been making an alarming comeback due to lapses in vaccination coverage across the globe. And in this episode, we’ll tell you why exactly its return is a cause for concern. From the devastation it wreaks on the body to the untold tragedy of past epidemics, pertussis is a dreaded disease that was nearly relegated to the past thanks to the amazing efforts of three incredible researchers, Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering, and Loney Gordon. But as the provider of our firsthand account illustrates, pertussis is still very much present today. We are joined by the incredible Catherine Hughes, who does us the honor of sharing her story about her son Riley and her efforts to raise awareness about the importance of childhood vaccinations. Read more about the Light for Riley campaign and the Immunisation Foundation of Australia to see the hugely important work being done. Trigger Warning: The firsthand account of this episode features the death of an infant. If you do not wish to hear this, skip to 5:10. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
110 minutes | a year ago
Ep 43 M-m-m-my Coronaviruses
What better time to explore the world of coronaviruses than amidst an outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus that brings to mind memories of SARS and MERS? On this very special episode of This Podcast Will Kill You, we’ll take you through what we know about this diverse group of viruses, from the mild strains constantly circulating to the epidemic ones that make headlines with their lethality. Want to know how exactly these royal viruses make you sick? Or what went on during the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic? Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. And to help us get a grasp on the current 2019-nCoV outbreak that’s got the world’s attention, we’ve brought on four experts from Emory University to give us the lowdown: Dr. Colleen Kraft, Dr. G. Marshall Lyon, Dr. Aneesh Mehta, and Dr. Carlos del Rio. *Please keep in mind, we recorded this episode on Sunday, Feb 2 and conducted the interviews between Jan 29 and 30, 2020. Since recording, the statistics on 2019-nCoV that we and our guests reported have changed as the epidemic continues to evolve. The figures are changing fast, but the basic info is still relevant. To follow the 2019-nCoV outbreak, our experts recommend the following as reliable sources of information: WHO 2019-nCoV website, especially the Situation Reports Map Dashboard of 2019-nCoV Cases by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering CDC 2019-nCoV website And to learn more about the amazing work that our special guests do on the regular, follow them on Twitter! Colleen S. Kraft, MD, MSc (@colleenkraftmd) G. Marshall Lyon, MD, MMSc (@GMLyon3) Aneesh K. Mehta, M.D., FIDSA, FAST (@AneeshMehtaMD) Carlos del Rio, MD (@CarlosdelRio7) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
76 minutes | a year ago
Ep 42 Dandy Dengue Fever
Our first vector-borne disease episode of season 3 and our first mosquito-borne pathogen in quite some time, dengue virus proves itself to be more than a worthy topic (and quite a formidable adversary in terms of public health). This week we are joined by Dr. Alex Trillo who drops some firsthand knowledge on the excruciating symptoms that give dengue its colloquial name “breakbone fever”, and then we trace the virus’s path from its evolutionary origins in ancient forests to the inevitable emergence of dengue hemorrhagic fever following modern war. We round it all out with some truly horrifying stats on the prevalence of dengue today as well as some promising research on reducing the prevalence of dengue tomorrow. To find out more about Alex’s incredibly cool research, check out her website at www.alextrillo.com and follow her on Twitter at @Trillo_PA. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
81 minutes | a year ago
Ep 40 Dancing Plague: Worst Dance Party Ever
In 1518 a strange sight could be seen all over the town of Strasbourg. Crowds of people dancing unceasingly, unable to control their movements, seemingly heedless of their blistered and bloodied feet. As the contagious dance grew, so did the body count as the frenzied dancers succumbed to exhaustion. Over 500 years later, this dancing plague leaves us with many questions, first among them being, “What in the heck?”. In this episode, we try to get to the bottom of this mysterious infectious dance by investigating several different hypotheses, which lead us down some wild roads. Tune in, put on your best dancing shoes, and drop that beat. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
70 minutes | a year ago
Ep 37 E. coli (unless it's beets)
E. coli. Such a short name for such a massive topic. This episode we explore the delightful diversity of Escherichia coli, the ubiquitous bacterium that predates humans and can range in virulence anywhere from “you won’t even know I’m there” to “this is really, really, really gonna hurt”. Today we cover the good, the bad, and the ugly: you’ll hear about the innumerable contributions of E. coli to the fields of genetics, evolution, and microbiology, a detailed account of how pathogenic strains can wreak havoc on your guts, and an exploration of one of the most infamous food-borne illness outbreaks in US history. Hoping we’d end it on a happy note? Better luck next time, folks. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
101 minutes | a year ago
Ep 36 Shades of Syphilis
That’s right, we’re back! And we’re starting off with a bang. Syphilis, aka the Great Imitator, is the subject of today’s long-awaited episode, and it’s got everything you could imagine. When you woke up today, were you hoping to learn about how this spirochete can invade all of your body’s organs? Or how the geographic origins of syphilis are still disputed? Maybe you were wishing to gain some knowledge about a horrific experiment that revolutionized bioethics and defined what it means to give informed consent? One thing is certain - you’re definitely going to want to know about the current status of this ancient disease (yikes, it’s on the rise) and how to cure it (whew, penicillin works). Tune in to have all these wishes granted. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
113 minutes | a year ago
Ep 32 Ask the Erins
What exactly is disease ecology anyway? How did TPWKY come to be? How do we come up with our quarantinis? What’s our favorite pathogen? In this very special episode, you get to hear exactly what you’ve been asking for -- literally. Today we answer listener questions and don’t hold anything back. From what are the effects of climate change on vector-borne disease to what we were like at age nine, you asked and we answered! See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
76 minutes | 2 years ago
Ep 31 Giardia: Gerardia
Giardia may be the most common intestinal parasite in the US and one of the most common worldwide, but did you know it was only in the last 40 years that it was officially recognized as a human pathogen?! In today’s episode, we’ll travel back to a time before humans knew microbes even existed to discover alongside Leeuwenhoek a whole new world of animalcules like giardia. We’ll find out how seeing these critters for the first time changed everything, and how long it has taken to recognize their impact on the globe. Plus, we’ll tell you all about how giardia gives you such bad poops. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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