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This Podcast Will Kill You

Author: Exactly Right

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This podcast might not actually kill you, but it covers so many things that can. Each episode tackles a different disease, from its history, to its biology, and finally, how scared you need to be. Ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke make infectious diseases acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match
44 Episodes
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Ep 42 Dandy Dengue Fever

Ep 42 Dandy Dengue Fever

2020-01-2101:18:382

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.
Ep 41 Ricin: A Bad Seed

Ep 41 Ricin: A Bad Seed

2020-01-0701:16:438

Have you missed learning about plant poisons? Well, it’s your lucky day! Today is our first crossover of season three with our friend Matt Candeias of In Defense of Plants. In this episode we delve into the castor bean plant Ricinus communis and its two notorious products: castor oil and the star of the show, ricin. Join us as we learn about ricin’s storied history, which leads us through political assassinations and efficiency in engines, the biology of ricin, which horrifies us with its lethality, and finally, the ecology of the plant, which surprises us with its strategic partnerships. Looking for more ways to cure your plant blindness? Check out In Defense of Plants at indefenseofplants.com and follow Matt on twitter @indfnsofplnts.
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.
You’ve seen the headlines: could this cat-associated parasite be controlling your every move? Is the love you have for cats pure or merely a manipulation? Join us as we discuss Toxoplasma gondii, the feline-associated parasite that infects a whopping one third of all humans. Yes, you read that right. From the behavior-altering effects on rodents to the ancestral origins of the domestic cat, we dive deep into all things toxoplasmosis, the disease that sounds like it comes straight out of a sci-fi novel.
This episode, our first foray into toxic metals, is heavy in all kinds of ways - metallically, emotionally, informationally, politically. Lead poisoning has been around for about as long humans have been working with lead, but despite its extensive history, it still poses an incredibly huge public health problem today, especially for children. Tune in to hear us chat about the multitude of effects lead exposure can have on your body, the dark and often strange history of lead poisoning (ancient Rome, anyone?), and the alarming extent to which lead exposure affects people around the world today.
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.
Ep 36 Shades of Syphilis

Ep 36 Shades of Syphilis

2019-10-2901:42:352

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.
For our last episode of this season, we’re going out with a bang, or should we say bite? This week we’re tackling the doozy of a disease called Lyme, the most prevalent tick-borne infection in the northern hemisphere. Tune in to hear us navigate the complicated biology of Borrelia burgdoferi, delve into the ancient history of the disease (ice mummy? yes, please!), and trace the tangled ecological web woven by the spirochete, its vector, and its hosts. And to round out this delicious blood-meal of an episode, we are joined by the one-and-only hunter of ticks, ecologist of disease, and PhD advisor of Erins, Dr. Brian Allan! Not only does Brian shine some light on the current innovative research on Lyme disease ecology, but he also details his own experience with the disease. This episode is as full as a tick with information about Lyme disease, making it one you’re not going to want to miss.The clock is already ticking for our third season premiere on October 29, so mark those calendars, people! And in the meantime, wash your hands, ya filthy animals!
Despite being one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting millions of people worldwide, cystic fibrosis evaded medical description for thousands of years after its first appearance. But the last century has led to a revolution in diagnosis, treatment, and our understanding of the disease. This week we talk all things cystic fibrosis, from salty sweaty tests to European folklore, from Bell Beaker culture to gene therapy. And we are honored to be joined by Jay Gironimi, author of “Can’t Eat, Can’t Breathe, and Other Ways Cystic Fibrosis Has F#$%*d Me”, who chats candidly about his experience with CF. Oh, and the best part? Jay, also the talented musician behind All Hallow‘s Evil, wrote a custom song specifically for this episode! We loved it so much we named this ep after it, and we know you’re gonna love it too. You can find Jay’s book on amazon in both paperback and digital versions, find the audiobook version on audible and more of his writing at canteatcantbreathe.com. You can also find his music at allhallowsevil.bandcamp.com and follow him on twitter @allhallowsevil. 
Walking through a forest at dusk, you’ve likely heard the croaks and groans of frogs and toads forming a chorus in the damp undergrowth. But what if the forest were suddenly, inexplicably, silent? In the 1980s scientists started noticing the forests becoming quieter as amphibian populations around the globe began to decline -- rapidly. Today we are joined by Dr. Taegan McMahon from the University of Tampa to discuss our first ever wildlife disease: chytridiomycosis. Chytrid fungus, or Bd for short, has wreaked havoc on amphibian populations for the last several decades, and researchers are still trying to find a way to stop it. For more information on Chytrid and Taegan’s research, follow her lab on instagram @mcmahon_lab. For more awesome parasitology pics, check out @uoftampa_parasitology, and for gorgeous biology art, Taegan does watercolors @wandering.ecologist!  
Ep 32 Ask the Erins

Ep 32 Ask the Erins

2019-07-2301:51:462

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!
Ep 31 Giardia: Gerardia

Ep 31 Giardia: Gerardia

2019-07-0901:15:462

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.
Imagine this: a sickness where millions fell into a deep slumber from which they never woke. Of those that did, many remained trapped in a cage of their own bodies, unable to move or speak but fully aware of the world around them. Imagine that this sickness appeared suddenly, without warning, and spread across the globe, affecting millions in just a few decades. Then, just as quickly as it emerged it disappeared. Survivors were left to suffer, eventually forgotten, while hundreds of questions remained unanswered. This is the story of encephalitis lethargica, the subject of our first ever medical mystery episode. Encephalitis lethargica was a ‘sleepy sickness’ epidemic which afflicted millions in the early 1910s and 20s but has caused only sporadic cases since the 1940s. This mysterious illness revolutionized the fields of neurology and psychiatry and forced physicians to examine where the brain ends and the mind begins. What could cause such an illness and why haven’t we seen it since? Tune in to hear us tell you the story of this fascinating medical mystery.
On this very special crossover episode with our friend Matt Candeias from In Defense of Plants, we’re switching things up from poison to remedy, focusing on the plant-derived wonder drug, aspirin! We cover the ancient use of salicylic acid-containing willow bark to relieve pain and fevers and then reveal how such a harsh compound was transformed into a useable pharmaceutical. We also delve into what happens in your body when you pop an aspirin and discuss why on earth so many plants make this incredible compound. Spoiler - it’s not just a wonder drug for humans.
This week's episode comes with a warning: don't attempt this at home. While self-experimentation has led to many a scientific breakthrough, we're definitely not advocating it. But it happened to work out for the best for Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, even earning them a Nobel prize. That’s right folks, today we’re talking about none other than Helicobacter pylori, the curvy little bacterium identified only a few decades ago to be a causative agent of peptic ulcer disease, a major risk factor in the development of gastric cancer, and a fierce warrior who can survive the harshest of environments: your stomach.
Were you stoked about the history and biology of vaccines we covered in part 1, but left with even more questions? Were you really hoping to hear us talk about anti-vaccine sentiment and address misconceptions about vaccines in detail? Did you want even more expert guest insight?! Well then do we have the episode for you! Today, we delve into the history of the “anti-vaccine movement” which, spoiler alert, is nothing new. With the help of Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development we address some of the most common concerns and questions that arise about vaccines, their safety, and their efficacy. And finally, we hear from Bill Nye The Science Guy about dealing with the challenges of science communication in the modern world when diseases spread as fast as fake news headlines. Y’all. This is the episode you’ve been waiting for. You can follow Dr. Peter Hotez on twitter @PeterHotez and check out his book “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism” And you can listen to “Science Rules!” the new podcast from Bill Nye the Science Guy, available now on stitcher https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/stitcher/science-rules-with-bill-nye or wherever you are listening to this podcast!
The wait is finally over: this week we are very excited to bring you the episode we’ve been teasing for weeks: vaccines! This week and next (you don’t have to wait a full two weeks for the next episode!), we are presenting a two-part series on vaccines. In today’s episode, we dive deep into the biology of vaccines, from how they stimulate your (amazing) immune system to protect you, to how they make you into an almost-superhero, shielding the innocents around you from deadly infections. We take you back hundreds, nay, thousands of years to when something akin to vaccination first began, and then we walk along the long road of vaccine development to see just how massive an impact vaccines have had on the modern world. The best part? We are joined by not one, but two experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Gail Rodgers and Dr. Padmini Srikantiah explain the process of vaccine development, highlight the challenges of vaccine deployment, and shine a hopeful light on the future of vaccines. And be sure to tune in next week for part 2 where we’ll focus on vaccine hesitancy and address common misconceptions surrounding vaccines in even more depth. For more information on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiatives, visit: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/ For more information on vaccines currently in development, check out: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ and https://www.who.int/immunization/research/vaccine_pipeline_tracker_spreadsheet/en/And, as always, you can find all of the sources we used in this episode on our website: http://thispodcastwillkillyou.com/episodes/
This bug deserves a big round of applause and not just because it’s nicknamed “The Clap”. Check out this week’s episode to gasp in wonder at the tricks that Neisseria gonorrhoeae uses to tiptoe past your immune system. Then prepare to cringe at some old-timey treatments for the disease while we trace the history of this ancient pathogen. Finally, make sure you have a quarantini or placeborita in hand for when we chat about the not-so-cheery outlook for this particular sexually-transmitted infection. Believe us, this is one episode you’re not gonn(orrhe)a want to miss.
Zika virus may not have as long and storied a history as many diseases we've covered, but in a short time it has managed to make a big impression. Today we'll talk about how Zika wriggled its way out of obscurity and cover its journey from a mosquito's mouth straight to our newspaper headlines. From the first discovery of the virus in a Ugandan jungle, to the heartbreaking effects only recently discovered, to the future of Zika research and vaccine development, we'll fill you in on everything you want to know and then some.
Today we’re taking a bite out of hookworm, our first macroparasite. We start, as all hookworm journeys must, from the dewy grass, where larvae burrow into your exposed flesh and make their long and winding way to your guts, where the eggs of a fortunate few will be immortalized in fossilized poop. It’s a tale of human migration, of failed eradication, and of overburdened populations. So pull up a chair, take off your shoes, and rest your feet in the cool dew-soaked grass. But watch out for the ground itch...Find more from Meramec Valley Girl at https://meramecvalleygirl.com/ and on instagram @meramecvalleygirl
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Comments (180)

cat beans

if I have to hear the rhythm ad again I will lose it. I dont know why this ad read makes me so upset.

Jan 22nd
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Lainy Tavares Lainy's Locks

Love your podcast..I like that you keep it light..we all need to giggle..its ok to joke around a little..life is just too serious..laughter makes your heart less heavy! keep it up love it! I feel like dancing now! lol If I have to go out somehow Id rather be dancing!

Jan 18th
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John Thibodeau

Love your podcasts. How about another plant discussion on Daturas?

Jan 16th
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Orkaganon of Torkaganon

do you ever get tired of impregnating your otherwise good podcast, with your virtue signaling and incessant need to include your politics? As someone who doesn't always agree with your Political views, I'd be nervous to have either of you as my doctor, and receive proper care.

Jan 16th
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Martha Stevens

when can we look forward to leptospirosis?

Dec 28th
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Juju Longo

this has, no doubt, become my most favorite podcast. it's the only one I actually stop doing anything and start listening to as soon as a new episode arrives.

Dec 26th
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stacey aberdeen

Love the political tie in! You must maintain that aspect of the podcast! I've never thought of lead in the way of a companys product. Thank you for illuminating us. I would love to hear about cigarettes/nicotine and vaping and the politics that go with it...in your spare time of course😉

Dec 3rd
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Abby

Congratulations Mama!!!

Dec 2nd
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BC

HOLY SHIT THEY EXPERIMENTED ON CHILDREN THERE IS NO WAY THIS IS ACCEPTABLE WHAT THE FUCK

Dec 1st
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BC

I see this as an indication that corporations will never willingly self-regulate if profits are at stake.

Dec 1st
Reply

Julie McLaughlin

please go back to doing infectious diseases!! I still don't know the difference between typhoid and typhus and what the fuck is tularemia

Nov 29th
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Eco Logique

I juste found this podcast and it is amazing!!! But this week I cant listen to the 10 episode and up whyyy????

Nov 28th
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Juju Longo

outstanding episode!

Nov 26th
Reply (1)

Julie McLaughlin

hope you are fans of Sawbones, with all the crazy killer cures you discuss!

Oct 30th
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Allie

YAAAAYYYY! YOU'RE BACK!!!

Oct 30th
Reply (1)

Tiffany Reese

american scandal is a good podcast with a deep dive into the Tuskegee project.

Oct 29th
Reply (2)

Accordionbabe

Welcome back!!!

Oct 29th
Reply (2)

A. Schaan

It was about a year ago that I was diagnosed with Lyme. I came home wanting to learn as much as I could about the disease and thought I would start with podcasts. Truth be told there weren't any really great podcasts at the time about it...but there is now!

Oct 1st
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PENN

love this episode !!

Sep 30th
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Betsy Hart

I love learning about a virus that I have actually "seen" in real life... this one being so recent makes it more real to me.

Sep 24th
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