TWiV 376: The flavi of the month is Zika

February 14, 2016

One does not simply walk into the placentaHosts: Vincent Racaniello, Dickson DespommierAlan DoveRich Condit, and Kathy Spindler

Guest: Jeremy Luban

The TWiV team discusses the latest data on Zika virus, including ocular defects in infants with microcephaly, and isolation of the entire viral genome from fetal brain tissue.

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This episode is sponsored by 32nd Clinical Virology Symposium and ASM Microbe 2016 5:15, 1:12:35

Weekly Science Picks 1:33:00

Alan – PhD Comics on gravitational waves
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Vincent – Amazon AWS TOS and Confirming Einstein
Rich – Mosquito mass production
Kathy – TileApp
Jeremy – IL17A and autism and The Perfect Theory by Pedro Ferreira

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6 comments on “TWiV 376: The flavi of the month is Zika

  1. Barbara Bengtsson Feb 14, 2016

    Dear TWIV team,

    I have been a fan of TWIV since 2009 when I discovered it just after graduating as a non-traditional student with a BS in Biology (mom with two kids in middle school who are now both in grad school). I didn’t have a job right away but great enthusiasm for all things molecular and quickly caught up by going through the archives. After working for a little over a year in Wenying Shou’s evolutionary biology lab at Fred Hutchinson, I started working at Alder Biopharmaceuticals and have been there ever since. Today, February 14, it is a grey day here in beautiful Seattle, Washington, with intermittent rain, 94% humidity, 11mph wind speed and the temperature hovering around 50°F or 10°C. In my first email to TWIV (better late than never), I would like to alert you to a fascinating article published in the online edition of Science on February 5 this year. The researchers used phylogenic data to analyze the threat the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) poses not only to global honeybee populations but also to other pollinators as well as the vector Varroa destructor’s role in enhancing pathogenicity of DWV.
    I would love to hear your discussion of this paper, possibly combined with an interview of one of its authors.

    Thanks for all the inspiring podcasts!


  2. Chris Feb 17, 2016

    The comparison with congenital rubella syndrome was awesome. Do not forget the devastation caused by other diseases spread by the same mosquito: dengue and yellow fever. The morbidity and mortality numbers for those make the stats for Zika seem very tiny.

    The aedes aegypti mosquito is not native to the Americas, so any method to eradicate them (including genetic modification) is fine by me. I have had dengue fever, I don’t want it again. I vote for anyway to get rid of the little beasts.

    Dear TWiVers, please refer to previous weather report by Barbara, since we are in the same city. It is February in Seattle, therefore it is either raining or it is foggy. My outerwear choices are either a sweater for the fog, or my poncho with sleeves for the rain.

  3. Bohdan Oryshkevich, MD, MPH Feb 19, 2016

    The weather inside this Amtrak train is sunny and dry and around 25 degree celsius. Outside it is sunny and dry and a bit cooler as we shlep through North Carolina heading north. My Ipod is confused as to where it is and is not providing a local temperature.

    There were no new mushroom sightings in Durham as I walked to the Amtrak train station this morning.

    Your Zika podcasts have been terrific. I have never been so interested in mosquitos as now. My interest in the past has been limited to metallic mosquitos, syringes.

    Someone should write a book on the epidemiology of the syringe, both positive and negative. The closest treatment of this subject has been Pepin’s, The Origins of AIDS which should be a pick of the week if it has not yet been.

    There are some reports in the literature that one cannot discuss Zika without also including the conditions created by previous dengue and chikv outbreaks.

    In addition, Cuba has now had three well described sequential outbreaks of dengue of different severity. This has taken place despite the fact that Cuba has endemic dengue. These outbreaks seem to take place every eighteen years. The immunology of sequential outbreaks of dengue and their possible impact on zika could make for an interesting TWIV.

    Given the thaw in Cuban/American relations, a TWIV/TWIM/TWIP from Havana could be interesting. Cuba has had one economic success in developing a biotechnology sector. It provides inexpensive vaccine and biological alternatives to developing countries.

    It was very helpful for Vincent to mention the continued problems with congenital rubella syndrome. The WHO and other factsheets state that there are 100,000 such cases worldwide per year. The CDC in its review of CRS in 2015 (2000 to 2014) cited above mentions the fact that there has been a ninety five percent decline in CRS. But that there were still 33,000 plus REPORTED cases in 2014. That is still much too many. But, at least there has been progress. My rather cursory research did not find how the 100,000 was arrived at or whether it needs to be revised.

    Finally, I have taken it upon myself to find a way to publish the parasitology textbook of Dickson D and Daniel.

    Since viruses move parasitically but bacteria and parasites move on their own, I thought you might find this video on the ultimate purpose of brains by Daniel Wolpert, a Cambridge U neuroscientist, interesting.

    If you can distract me with fascinating scientific trivia, I can try to do the same to you.

  4. I finally had a chance to listen to this week’s episode, and I’m tickled to see my meme as the image. I’m glad Alan has the same penchant for pop culture references as I do; I’m dreaming up a Hannibal Lector one as I type.

    Thank you for the follow up cast on Zika; it’s been interesting to read and listen to the fast paced evolution of this virus in the media, and also how it opens the door for more research into fetal virology. I can’t wait to see the discoveries that result from this unfortunate disease. Maybe it’s been clarified before, but I can’t help but think; why now? If Zika is endemic in areas like Brazil, why is there a seemingly sudden correlation between infection and microcephaly? Has the connection always been there and we are just seeing it now, or has something changed?

    Anyway, thanks again for the shout-out in the podcast, and thanks to Alan for the continued meme-fodder. Take care, all!


    P.S. It’s a remarkably warm February here in Calgary. The temperature rose to nearly 11°C earlier this week – my ability to be a winter-smug Canadian has been obliterated this year.