tsmith

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Tara C. Smith

Associate Professor, lab rat (microbiologist/infectious disease epidemiologist) and occasional blogger, full-time nerd.

Posts by this author

June 14, 2012
This is the second of 16 student posts, guest-authored by Eileen Ball. The beauty of dogs and cats as companions is that we don’t have to raise them to go out into the world and be successful.  As pet parents we can set the household “rules” according to what works for us and get on with enjoying…
June 14, 2012
This is the first of 16 student posts, guest-authored by Riva Ben-Ezra. Acai fruit comes from the Brazilian Amazon forests and is one of the main dietary staples of the native population.  It has been touted as having potent antioxidant properties 1,2 as well as being a stimulant for weight loss3,…
June 13, 2012
As long-term readers know, I've previously featured student posts on various topics of their own choosing. I'm doing it again this year with my summer course on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology. In this course, students learn to take the theories and information from a basic ID epi course…
June 7, 2012
ASM 2012 is almost upon us! Who's going? Who's presenting? Who wants to meet up and what are good days for it? Leave suggestions and pimp your own presentations below in the comments. I will be convening a session on Sunday, June 17th on science communication, "Sound Bites to Superbugs". Sound…
May 17, 2012
Received the official letter from the Provost--the Board of Regents approved my application for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. The process here started last summer. My dossier (with my course syllabi, statements on teaching/research/service, student and peer evaluations of my…
April 5, 2012
The ecology of antibiotic resistance on farms is complicated. Animals receive antibiotic doses in their food and water, for reasons of growth promotion, disease prophylaxis, and treatment. Other chemicals in the environment, such as cleaning products or antimicrobial metals in the feed, may also…
March 28, 2012
She just bought two pairs of new shoes. This is the refrain my brain keeps returning to, as if that will make the outcome any different. She hardly ever bought new shoes, or clothes, and especially furniture. Yet in the past year, as she decided she'd go on dialysis and stick around awhile, she…
March 27, 2012
The emergence of "new" diseases is a complicated issue. "New" diseases often just means "new to biomedical science." Viruses like Ebola and HIV were certainly circulating in Africa in animal reservoirs for decades, and probably millenia, before they came to the attention of physicians via human…
March 7, 2012
I mentioned last month that we are planning an Emerging Diseases conference here in April. Things are moving quickly and registration is now open (here). Abstract submission is also up and running here. The details: Oral and poster presentation research abstracts are due by 5:00pm on March 23,…
February 28, 2012
Typically when we think of flying things and influenza viruses, the first images that come to mind are wild waterfowl. Waterbirds are reservoirs for an enormous diversity of influenza viruses, and are the ultimate origin of all known flu viruses. In birds, the virus replicates in the intestinal…
February 21, 2012
I recently gave a talk to a group here in Iowa City, emphasizing just how frequently we share microbes. It was a noontime talk over a nice lunch, and of course I discussed how basically we humans are hosts to all kinds of organisms, and analysis of our "extended microbiome" shows that we share not…
February 10, 2012
I mentioned earlier in the week that I had two pending announcements; now I can officially share the second. We're putting on an Emerging Infectious Diseases conference here in Iowa City April 27-8th, and the Keynote speaker will be Ian Lipkin, a world leader in the field of viral discovery and…
February 8, 2012
Have two awesome announcements that I've been waiting to share. One will still have to wait a few more days as we're finalizing some details, I can now let you know that I just started a new position as an Advisory Board member of the Zombie Research Society. It's a pretty cool group, including THE…
January 19, 2012
Back in November, I blogged about one of our studies, examining methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Iowa meat products. In that post, I mentioned that it was one of two studies we'd finished on the subject. Well, today the second study is out in PLoS ONE (freely available to all…
December 8, 2011
Just a quick post as I'm in end-of-semester hell. Via Maryn McKenna on Twitter, the CDC has released a report of Campylobacter illnesses due to not food consumption, but because of castrating lambs. With their teeth. On June 29, 2011, the Wyoming Department of Health was notified of two laboratory-…
November 15, 2011
Oh, Discover. You're such a tease. You have Ed and Carl and Razib and Phil and Sean, an (all-male, ahem) cluster of science bloggy goodness. But then you also fawn over HIV deniers Lynn Margulis and Peter Duesberg. Why can't you just stick with the science and keep the denial out?* But no, now they…
November 15, 2011
I rarely write about climate change. As much as it's been hashed out amongst climate scientists, and even many of the former "climate skeptics" have now changed their tune, I readily accept that climate change is happening, and is happening largely due to human activities. More importantly for my…
November 13, 2011
Aah, the things one learns when awake at 3AM on a Saturday night. Via a few different Tweeps, I ran across this article from Men's Health magazine, titled "Urgent Warning: Sex with Animals Causes Cancer." I probably should have just stopped there. But no, I read the magazine article, which states…
November 9, 2011
I've blogged previously on a few U.S. studies which investigated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in raw meat products (including chicken, beef, turkey, and pork). This isn't just a casual observation as one who eats food--I follow this area closely as we also have done our own pair of…
November 8, 2011
As you may have noticed from the extended radio silence, it's been a busy few months between classes (both taking them and giving them), tenure packaging, and research. To add another responsibility to the mix, I gave a talk a few weeks back at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture's annual…
November 4, 2011
I've written a few times about chickenpox parties. The first link refers to a magazine article describing the practice; the second, a few years later, about a Craigslist ad looking to hold such a party "at McDonald [sic] or some place with toys to play on." Clearly, as chickenpox cases have become…
August 23, 2011
Our new Scienceblogs overlords sure have great timing with their new pseudonymous blogging rules. For those who haven't run across that yet, National Geographic has decided to eliminate pseudonyms and force everyone with a blog remaining here (which is already dwindling) to blog under their real…
August 11, 2011
Over at White Coat Underground, Pal has the post that I've been meaning to write. Earlier this summer, a family member posted on Facebook that a friend of her daughter was nursing a "nasty spider bite" that she got while camping in Michigan. Her post claimed it was a Brown Recluse bite. Being my…
July 8, 2011
As good news surfaces regarding a new (well, old) potential drug to help combat malaria--a drug already used to treat river blindness--KeithB and Phil Scheibel alerted me to another old malaria fighter featuring Dopey, Sneezy, and the whole gang: Other Disney disease-fighting videos include Water…
July 6, 2011
While "flesh-eating infections" caused by the group A streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes) may grab more headlines today, one hundred and fifty years ago, the best known and most dreaded form of streptococcal infection was scarlet fever. Simply hearing the name of this disease, and knowing that…
June 27, 2011
Malaria is one of mankind's most ancient scourges. A century after the discovery of its cause, various species of the parasite Plasmodium, humanity still remains in its deadly grip in many areas of the world. Malaria is estimated to have caused 225 million illnesses and almost 800,000 deaths in…
June 24, 2011
Part One It appears that the E. coli O104 sproutbreak is starting to wind down, with more than 3,500 cases diagnosed to date and 39 deaths. Though sprouts remain the key source of the bacterium, a recent report also documents that human carriers helped to spread the organism (via H5N1 blog). In…
June 23, 2011
I have written and deleted this post. Twice. But damn it, it needs to be said. I'm here in charming Montreal for the North American Congress of Epidemiology. It's a good-sized meeting, as far as epi meetings go. The site notes that it's a joint effort between four major Epi organizations: The…
June 23, 2011
As I've laid out this week (part 1, part 2, part 3), the realization that a fairly simple, toxin-carrying bacterium could cause a "complex" and mysterious disease like hemolytic uremic syndrome came only with 30 years' of scientific investigation and many false starts and misleading results. Like…
June 22, 2011
I left off yesterday with the initial discovery of "Vero toxin," a toxin produced by E. coli (also called "Shiga toxin" or "Shiga-like toxin"). Though this may initially seem unconnected to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the discovery of this cytotoxin paved the way for a clearer understanding of…