TWiV 1: West Nile Virus

September 24, 2008

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello and Dickson Despommier

Vincent and Dickson launch a new science podcast with a description of the emergence and spread of West Nile virus in the United States.

Click the arrow above to play, or right-click to download TWiV #1 (41.8 MB .mp3 file)

Subscribe (free): iTunesRSSemail

Links for this episode:

  • Buy “West Nile Story” by Dickson Despommier.
  • ProMed Mail. The global reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious disease.
  • PubMed. A service of the National Library of Medicine, includes over 14 million citations for biomedical articles back to the 1950s.
  • West Nile page at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Great maps of where the virus has been found.
  • Episode transcript (download pdf)

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10 comments on “TWiV 1: West Nile Virus

  1. Kaalde Omar Jun 30, 2012

    Here is where it all started!! Thanks Vincent and Dickson

  2. tunie Jan 26, 2013

    alright 215 to go, you guys mind waiting till i catch-up! Good way to start…thanks for doing what u do…

  3. Hey guys, awesome podcast. I just discovered both TWIV and TWIP and I’ve become instantly addicted (I just now noticed you also have TWIM. Oh boy).

    I do have some questions about this first episode of TWIV though. I know that this episode is like 5 years old, but maybe you could shed some light on some of the questionable statements you guys made. I work at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, and I recently shared some remarkable tidbits from TWIV #1 with a couple of ornithologists (one a curator here, the other a Ph.D. student at Cornell) that they took issue with, specifically that a) we’ve ‘lost 90% of our crows’ due to WNV infection (cursory research on my part found the following: ‘Local WNV transmission to American crows was so intense in the eastern United States that some local populations declined by almost 70%’ [Reed et. al. 2009,, and b) that when American crows are scavenging on some tasty roadkill they are actually limiting themselves to the stomach contents of the recently deceased (the grad student found youtube video that would seem to contradict that statement, but I don’t have the stomach to wade through videos of crows eating roadkill to go out and find it and post a link, sorry).

    Anyway, just thought I’d bring this stuff up before I forgot about it. I’ve only heard the 1st episode so maybe you even address these statements on later episodes. Boy, won’t my face be red (not really, though I will have wasted my time writing this prolix comment). Cool, thanks and keep up the good work.

  4. Richard Cornell Apr 29, 2020

    You got my interest. My only study on virus was in grad school when I was a student of a professor who had a grant from the DEA on how to killed certain plants using a virus. One day he took some of us to a location where we burned his plants. He was hired away from the university by a another school with a larger grant.
    Taking another course on viruses was on cancer of plants. Each student was given a assignment to study one type of plant. The professor was writing a book and we did his research.

  5. Nadine Jul 23, 2020

    Been listening to TWiV for about two years now. It is 2020
    I am now starting at episode one.
    I work from home and have the ability to listen as I work.

    Love you guys, you make me want to go back to school. At 50yrs old not sure its advisable but even my 14yr old says, mom, you need to go back to school and learn about virus… what a cool kid eh?

    alright, thanks for the information and the inspiration to continue to learn!


  6. Julie Aug 24, 2020

    I am a veterinarian. While in vet school, WNV passed through my campus. Vet students are the cheap labor. I had to “flip” “down” horses that had been diagnosed with WNV.

    Flipping is basically keeping a heavy animal that is supposed to be standing from getting pressure sores on the hips and shoulders. Two studentswould as gently as possible move the horse from one side to another. We also had to help recovering horses stand briefly in a sort of hoist. Near death experiences lifting a small car with teeth and hooves that wants you far away.