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Warning: here be spoilers In many latter-day zombie movies, books, and TV shows, zombie-ism has a biological cause. In 28 Days Later, the infection is caused by the “Rage” virus, which escaped from a lab when animal rights activists break in and release a group of infected chimpanzees. Of course, one of the animals promptly…

(Spoilers. And things.) After the start of season 4 of the Walking Dead and the introduction of a new nemesis: a fast-spreading, deadly infectious disease that seems to be a strain of influenza, I was looking forward to the plot arc of this season. And then episode 3, “Isolation”, happened. From an infectious disease standpoint,…

The microbiology of zombies, part I

(Spoilers below!) For Walking Dead fans and readers of this blog, you probably know why I was all excited about some of the plot elements that have been included thus far this season: possible zoonotic disease, and in particular, a potential influenza outbreak that may have originated in pigs. I muse about this and other…

New sites!

As part of the recent move, I’ve been revamping all kinds of websites. I have a new Facebook site to aggregate all my research and writing projects, and a new personal website for an overview of everything that I do (and have done). Thanks to RO Design, I also have a new lab logo. Stay…

New beginnings

Almost 9 years ago,  I arrived in Iowa City as a fresh-faced new assistant professor, just off my post-doc and simultaneously amazingly excited and horrifically terrified at what I’d gotten myself into. After several false starts and a rough few years both personally and professionally, I found my footing and my niche, and the last…

Student guest post by McKenzie Steger Off the southeastern coast of Australia lies a small island that in the 1700 and 1800’s was inhabited by the very worst of Europe’s criminals and is now the only natural home in the world to a species named after the devil himself. Decades later beginning in 1996 Tasmanian…

Student guest post by Sean McCaul Image Source:  http://www.cejournal.net/?p=1934 The next time somebody in your office or household has the flu, you might want to consider keeping your distance.  A new study published this month in Nature Communications suggests that about half of the transmission of influenza A results from inhalation of microscopic infectious droplets created…

Student guest post by Bradley Christensen No, this isn’t a clip from a science fiction movie.  Although dramatic, this does occur in the brains of some people and animals around on our home planet.  What is a prion you ask?  Prions are almost as mysterious to the scientists that research them as they are to…

Student guest post by Kyle Malter In many areas of the country there is a vile blood sucker that lurks in our forests, our parks and even our backyards.  What concerns us is not what this creature takes but rather what it leaves in our body after it bites us:  corkscrew shaped bacteria called spirochetes…

Student guest post by Julia Wiederholt I don’t think there is a single person that can claim to have never had the joyous experience (sarcasm intended) of suffering from the influenza.  We all recognize the common symptoms that accompany this infectious little virus taking up residence in our bodies: the chills accompanying a fever, the…