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This Podcast Will Kill You

Science • Health-and-fitness

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 acceptableRead more

Popular episodes

Ep 85 Alcohol: Beer for Thought

Nov 2 • 01:55:29

To say that alcohol is a part of human culture is a bit of an understatement. The relationship our species has with alcohol can be traced so far back that we see evidence of it in our DNA, in the way that humans, somewhat unique among mammals, gained the ability to more efficiently metabolize dietary ethanol. But while many of us have personal experience with the effects (...

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Ep 84 West Nile virus: The Crow in the Coal Mine

Oct 19 • 01:46:23

It’s the summer of 1999 in New York City, and everyone's looking towards the future, towards millennium parties and potential Y2K catastrophes. But if they turned their eyes to the streets around and skies above, they might have seen something else on the horizon, something much more real and alarming than a Y2K glitch: the arrival of West Nile virus. In this episode, we t...

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Ep 83 Diabetes: Short & Sweet

Oct 5 • 01:54:43

Almost everyone is familiar with diabetes mellitus in some way. Whether we know family or friends that have been diagnosed with the condition or we’re directly impacted ourselves, diabetes mellitus has become a household name. And this is perhaps not surprising given its extremely high prevalence - nearly 9% of adults around the globe are estimated to live with the disease...

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Ep 82 Anthrax: The Hardcore Spore

Sep 21 • 01:54:25

Twenty years ago this month, letters containing Bacillus anthracis spores were mailed to various politicians and news media offices in the US, resulting in illness, death, and a widespread fear that transformed anthrax from an agricultural disease or occupational hazard into a potential weapon of bioterrorism. In this episode, we explore the many dimensions of anthrax, fro...

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Ep 81 Chagas disease: The Reverse Triple Discovery

Sep 7 • 01:49:24

A nighttime “kiss” from a bug that casts a curse on its recipient in the form of a lifelong, and possibly fatal, illness. No, this isn’t some half-remembered fairy tale. It’s the true story of Chagas disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by many species of triatomines (aka kissing bugs). In this episode, we take you through the utterly complicat...

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Ep 80 Dysentery loves a disaster

Aug 24 • 01:19:53

While many of us know how deadly dysentery can be from playing countless hours of The Oregon Trail, there’s only so much that the classic game covered regarding this multifaceted disease. For instance, did you know that it can be caused by multiple pathogenic microbes? Or that it is and always has been closely associated with warfare and armies? Or that it remains one of t...

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Ep 79 Hemophilia: A Hemorrhagic Disposition

Aug 10 • 01:35:43

Bumps and bruises. Cuts and scrapes. Gashes and gouges. Injuries small and large are familiar to all of us, but what happens when part of our body’s innate healing ability is disrupted? What happens, for instance, when the blood just won’t stop flowing? In this episode, we explore one of the most common of these disruptions: the clotting disorder known as hemophilia. From ...

Ep 78 Bartonella: Keep Calm and Carrión

Jul 27 • 01:27:10

“Let’s do Bartonella next,” we said. “It’ll be straightforward and fun,” we promised ourselves. Turns out we were half right. In this fun but not quite straightforward episode, we tackle not one, not two, but three different species of Bartonella bacteria that can cause disease in humans: Bartonella bacilliformis (Carrión’s disease), B. quintana (trench fever), B. henselae

Ep 77 Legionnaires' Disease: A Killer Mist

Jul 13 • 01:11:23

Celebration wasn’t the only thing in the air in Philadelphia in July of 1976. Over the course of several days during the 58th Annual Convention of the American Legion, a killer mist spewed out of the air conditioning units throughout the building and into the sidewalks nearby. The result was a large outbreak of unexplained febrile pneumonia, often fatal, that would acquire...

Ep 76 Chickenpox: There's always a 'but'

Jun 29 • 01:15:22

Ah, chickenpox, that pesky old childhood illness. And that’s all it is, right? Just a mild, routine infection that we all used to catch until the vaccine came around? Not quite. In this episode, we learn that, when it comes to the varicella-zoster virus, not everything is as it seems. We explore the complex nature of this virus, how it can make you kinda sick and then how ...

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