Bohdan writes:

Dear Immuners:

It was a very balmy day today in Chapel Hill and Durham (circa 64 F) so I decided to send you a letter to point that out and make you jealous.

I welcome your new podcast.   Immunology is, indeed an abstruse subject, especially for physicians.  You began with monocytes and macrophages the most interesting and diverse cells in the human body.

With reference to light and lymphocyte immunology, multiple sclerosis varies consistently with latitude.  Its prevalence increases with latitude. This is largely true for the Northern Hemisphere and less for the Southern Hemisphere since the Northern Hemisphere has a much broader latitude distribution and a much larger population.  The information in the Southern Hemisphere is much more scant except for Australia and New Zealand.

The reasons for this are not fully clearl but probably relate in part to UV light exposure and HLA DRB1 induced susceptibility.  An additional and corrective factor is most probably intake and level of vitamin D.

I thought this might provide a clinical correlate to your Immune 2 podcast on immunology and circadian rhythms.

With reference to Immune 1, bats may be resistant to ebola because of their high metabolism during flight.  The rise in temperature produces changes in metabolism and critical proteins providing resistance to viruses other mammals are susceptible to.  This probably needs more investigation.

Thank you for your excellent work and Godspeed in your project.

Bohdan A Oryshkevich, MD, MPH

Lauren writes:

Subject: Urban Outbreak of Infectious Disease in Immunocompetent Coworkers


I’d like to share information I learned during my workplace’s outbreak of an airborne infectious disease that can cause malignancies, precancerous conditions, rheumatic diseases, connective tissue diseases, autoimmune symptoms, inflammation in any organ/tissue, seizures, migraines, hallucinations, etc. and is often undiagnosed/misdiagnosed in immunocompetent people.

My coworkers and I, all immunocompetent, got Disseminated Histoplasmosis in Dallas-Fort Worth from roosting bats, the most numerous non-human mammal in the U.S., that shed the fungus in their feces. The doctors said we couldn’t possibly have it, since we all had intact immune systems. The doctors were wrong.

More than 100 outbreaks have occurred in the U.S. since 1938, and those are just the ones that were figured out, since people go to different doctors. One outbreak was over 100,000 victims in Indianapolis. 80-90+% of people in some areas have been infected. It can lay dormant for up to 40 years in the lungs and/or adrenals.

This pathogen parasitizes the reticuloendothelial system/invades macrophages, infects and affects the lymphatic system and all tissues/organs, causes inflammation and granulomas, etc. It causes idiopathic (unknown cause) diseases and conditions, including hematological malignancies, autoimmune symptoms, myelitis, myositis, vasculitis. etc. It causes hypervascularization, calcifications, sclerosis, fibrosis, necrosis, eosinophilia, leukopenia, anemia, neutrophilia, pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia, hypoglycemia, cysts, abscesses, polyps, stenosis, and perforations, GI problems, hepatitis, focal neurologic deficits, etc. Many diseases it might cause are comorbid with other diseases it might cause, for example depression/anxiety/MS linked to Crohn’s disease.


It at least “mimics” autoimmune diseases, cancer, mental illness, migraines, seizures, etc. It’s known to cause rheumatological conditions. It causes hematological malignancies, and some doctors claim their leukemia patients go into remission when given antifungal. My friend in another state who died from lupus lived across the street from a bat colony. An acquaintance with alopecia universalis and whose mother had degenerative brain disorder has bat houses on their property.

Apparently, even the CDC didn’t know bats CARRY it and shed it in their feces, although they knew it could grow in bird and bat feces. Researchers claim the subacute type is more common than believed. It is known to at least mimic autoimmune diseases and cancer, and known to give false-positives in PET scans. But no one diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or cancer is screened for it. In fact, at least one NIH paper states explicitly that all patients diagnosed with sarcoidosis be tested for it, but most, if not all, are not. Other doctors are claiming sarcoidosis IS disseminated histoplasmosis.

The fungus is an Oxygenale and therefore consumes collagen. It’s known to cause connective tissue diseases. Fungal hyphae carry an electrical charge and align under a current. It causes RNA/DNA damage. It’s known to cause delusions, wild mood swings, and hallucinations. It’s most potent in female lactating bats, because the fungus likes sugar (lactose) and nitrogen (amino acids, protein). What about female lactating humans…postpartum psychosis? The bats give birth late spring/summer, and I noticed suicide rates spike in late spring/early summer. It’s known to cause retinal detachment, and retinal detachments are known to peak around June-July/in hot weather. A map of mental distress and some diseases appear to almost perfectly overlay a map of Histoplasmosis. Johns Hopkins linked autism to an immune response in the womb. Alzheimer’s was linked to hypoglycemia, which can be caused by chronic CNS histoplasmosis. The bats eat moths, which are attracted to blue and white city lights that simulate the moon the moths use to navigate.Bats feed up to 500 feet in the air and six miles in any direction from their roost.

I believe the “side effects” of Haldol (leukopenia and MS symptoms) might not always be side effects but just more symptoms of Disseminated Histoplasmosis, since it causes leukopenia and MS symptoms. What about the unknown reason why beta receptor blockers cause tardive dyskinesia? The tinnitus, photophobia, psychosis “caused” by Cipro? Hypersexuality and leukemia “caused” by Abilify? Humira linked to lymphoma, leukemia and melanoma in children? etc.

From my experience, I learned that NO doctor, at least in DFW, will suspect subacute and/or progressive disseminated histoplasmosis in immunocompetent people. Some doctors, at least the ones I went to, will even REFUSE to test for it, even when told someone and their coworkers have all the symptoms and spend a lot of time in a building with bats in the ceiling. Victims will be accused of hypochondriasis. In fact, the first doctor to diagnose me was a pulmonologist, and the only reason he examined me was to try to prove that I didn’t have it, when I really did. No doctor I went to realized bats carry the fungus. And NO doctor, at least none in DFW, even infectious disease “experts,” understand the DISSEMINATED form, just the pulmonary form, and the only test that will be done by many doctors before they diagnose people as NOT having it is an X-ray, even though at least 40-70% of victims will have NO sign of it on a lung X-ray. It OFTEN gives false-negatives in lab tests (some people are correctly diagnosed only during an autopsy after obtaining negative test results) and cultures may not show growth until after 12 weeks of incubation (but some labs report results after 2 weeks).

One disease of unknown cause that could be caused by Disseminated Histoplasmosis: I suspect, based on my and my coworker’s symptoms (during our “rare” infectious disease outbreak) and my research, that interstitial cystitis and its comorbid conditions can be caused by disseminated histoplasmosis, which causes inflammation throughout the body, causes “autoimmune” symptoms, and is not as rare as believed. I read that “interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the submucosal and muscular layers of the bladder, and the cause is currently unknown. Some people with IC have been diagnosed with other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, and Sjogren’s syndrome, which raises the possibility that interstitial cystitis may be caused by mechanisms that cause these other conditions. In addition, men with IC are frequently diagnosed as having chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, and there is an extensive overlap of symptoms and treatment between the two conditions, leading researchers to posit that the conditions may share the same etiology and pathology.” Sounds like Disseminated Histoplasmosis, doesn’t it?

My coworkers and I had GI problems, liver problems, weird rashes (erythema nodosum, erythema multiforme, etc.), plantar fasciitis, etc., and I had swollen lymph nodes, hives, lesions, abdominal aura, and started getting migraines and plantar fasciitis in the building, and haven’t had them since I left. It gave me temporary fecal incontinence, seizures, dark blood from my intestines, nystagmus, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, various aches and pains (some felt like pin pricks and pinches), tingling, tremors, and chronic spontaneous “orgasms”/convulsions. Suddenly I was allergic to pears (latex fruit allergy?). I had insomnia (presumably from the fungus acidifying the blood, releasing adrenaline) and parasomnias. I suddenly had symptoms of several inflammatory/autoimmune diseases, including Fibromyalgia, Sarcoidosis, ALS, MS, Sjogren’s syndrome, etc. that have disappeared since leaving the area and taking nothing but Itraconazole antifungal.

No one, including doctors, could figure out what was wrong with us, and I was being killed by my doctor, who mistakenly refused to believe I had it and gave me progressively higher and higher doses of Prednisone (at least 2 years after I already had Disseminated Histoplasmosis) after a positive ANA titer, until I miraculously remembered that a visiting man once told my elementary school class that bats CARRY histoplasmosis….so much of it that they evolved to deal with the photophobia and tinnitus it causes by hunting at night by echolocation. There’s a lot more. I wrote a book about my experience with Disseminated Histoplasmosis called “Batsh#t Crazy,” because bats shed the fungus in their feces and it causes delusions and hallucinations, I suspect by the sclerotia it can form emitting hallucinogens (like psilocybin and dimethyltryptamine) along with inflammation in the CNS. (Schizophrenics have 2X of a chemical associated with yeast, part of the fungal life cycle.)

Thank you for your time,


Anthony writes:

My impression is that for most of your audience — possibly including your colleagues — understanding Immunology requires something of a cheat sheet.  My suggestion is not to do this in the body of the podcast. For each show, include a second recording of a few minutes of UP TO SPEED covering definitions of terminology and an outline of concepts that will appear in the episode.  That way, people like me can listen to that first and those well-versed in Immunology can skip it.

For an idea of another show, perhaps there can be one on new drugs, drug discovery and other Pharma topics.  I’m thinking that in addition to your audience of biological professionals and the interested public, a drug podcast could be a resource for industry and investors — potentially many more people and ones that would interest advertisers,

If memory serves me correctly, while at Microsoft, Bill Gates’s hobby was buying biotech stocks.  The story goes that he holed up in a hotel room one weekend to study molecular biology and so be able to intelligently invest.  Few who invest in Pharma might be able to do that, but they can listen to a Podcast while commuting.

Kevin writes:

Howdy Immune gang!

Kevin from Audiommunity here – (quick pronunciation guide: **Audio** – **munity**… same number of syllables as autoimmunity).

I wanted to respond to Steve’s question from episode 3 about our podcast – yes, our episodes are in a bit of a random order, but I’ve tried to be diligent about adding at least a couple of tags to each post that include the main topics discussed – things like “MHC”, “B-cells” etc. There’s even a tag-cloud along the right hand side of that lists them, and Steve can click those links and filter just the episodes that have those tags.

I totally agree that having something more systematic would be useful (and any listeners should feel free to send us an e-mail to let us know if some episodes have tags missing), but that might go at least part way to helping listeners find episodes that cover each topic. Incidentally, our most recent episode covers some similar ground as your episode 3 – we were talking about efforts at generating a vaccine for Rhinovirus.

Loving the show so far, keep up the good work!

Richard writes:

Hi esteemed professors,

Firstly the weather here is 7 deg C, dry and sunny, with 7 km/h wind

You ask about subjects listeners would like to hear about. I would like a 101 episode on antibodies, and function of these in the wider immune response. I understand they are Y shaped, and the basics, but how do they get formed from presented antigens etc?

I’m a water treatment engineer and long time listener to twiv, twim, and now immune. So not a scientist… though I’d like to think I have a fair grasp of the subject by now. For example I’ve looked through all your virology courses on iTunes U. As well as trying to listen to audiobooks on sciences when possible.

Thanks for your time in producing all the podcasts you do.



Jolene writes:

Greetings Immune hosts!

I love your podcast. Can’t wait for the next episode as it has been exactly one month since the last one was released.

In the first couple episodes there was discussion of how temperature influences immune cell activity. I was shocked and delighted to hear about this on my early morning dog walk. So many incredible things happening inside our bodies all the time! Here is where my friends would ask me if this is why people can ‘catch a cold’ (the virus) by going out uncovered in the winter. I know that there are other factors that play into seasonal illness. Do we know much about short-term versus long-term cold air exposure affecting the human immune system enough that we are more likely to become ill? I’m especially wondering about extremities and the immune cells in your respiratory tract.

I must also echo the desire for some immunology 101. While this could be a great resource for college students, I especially think it could be invaluable for the regular people out there. Please count some extra votes for recording those episodes on things like complement, antibody isotypes, differences between phagocytic immune cells, subpopulations of immune cells and soluble immune factors at different body sites, T-cell maturation for self/non-self recognition, etc.  OK, maybe some of those topics are beyond 101, but I would happily listen to them on the podcast.