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This Podcast Will Kill You

Exactly Right

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 acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match.

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 acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match.


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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 acceptable fodder for dinner party conversation and provide the perfect cocktail recipe to match.




Ep 110 Influenza, Take 2: Fowl Play

Ep 110 Influenza, Take 2: Sitting Ducks; Fowl Play Over five years ago, on October 31, 2017, the very first episode of This Podcast Will Kill You premiered, an action-packed (and mildly disorganized) tour of the influenza virus and the 1918 flu pandemic. So much has happened since that episode’s release, both within the podcast and in the world of public health, not the least of which is a respiratory virus pandemic. Given this distance from the podcast’s beginning and the added perspective...


Wondery Presents: The Vanished

The Vanished is a true crime podcast that explores the stories of those who have gone missing. The Vanished goes beyond conventional news reports to take a deep dive into the story of a different missing person each week. Host Marissa Jones brings you exclusive interviews with family members, friends, law enforcement and experts on mainstream cases, as well as little known ones. Listen in, to hear what The Vanished will uncover next: See Privacy Policy at...


Ep 109 Chikungunya: Not dengue (or is it?)

Somehow it’s taken us until the penultimate episode to cover this season’s first mosquito-borne virus. But we assure you, this episode is well-worth the wait. Although Chikungunya virus is often lumped in with dengue or Zika, the unique characteristics that distinguish Chikungunya virus from these other arboviruses are just as important to note as the similarities among them. In this episode, we explore these differences and similarities in the biology of Chikungunya virus before reassessing...


Ep 108 Gout: Toetally fascinating

Although today we tend to think about diseases in terms of signs and symptoms, tests and treatments, that hasn’t always been the case. For much of history, diseases carried with them a deeper meaning beyond the pathophysiological processes leading to their development. A diagnosis was as much about the identity and personality of an individual as it was about the disease itself, and this was especially the case for the topic of today’s episode: gout. But before we get into the tangled...


Ep 107 Sepsis: It's a mess

Over the years of the podcast, we have often struggled with questions of why: why pathogens act the way they do, why certain people get sick while others don’t, or why we know little about some diseases. This episode is no exception - sepsis certainly inspires many “whys”. But for perhaps the first time on the pod, we find ourselves grappling not only with “why?” but also with “what?”. What, indeed, is sepsis? Ask a dozen doctors and you may get a dozen different answers. Our first goal for...


Ep 106 Turner Syndrome: Let's talk about X

Are you in the mood to chat chromosomes, specifically the X chromosome? If so, have we got the perfect episode for you! You may have come across the definition of Turner syndrome as a genetic condition resulting from the partial or complete loss of an X chromosome, but what does that actually mean? What is the X chromosome, what does it do, and why is it so important? We attempt to answer these questions with our exploration into the biology of Turner syndrome before setting our sights on...

Ep 105 Down in the Mumps

We’ve covered measles, we’ve taken on rubella, and now we’re finishing up the classic MMR vaccine by exploring the other M: mumps. To some listeners, mumps may be a painful childhood memory while to others it’s just a letter in a vaccine they were too young to remember getting. But by the end of this episode, we promise that you’ll all be much more familiar with this strange little virus. How does the mumps virus make you sick and give you that classic swollen face look? What is so bad about...


Ep 104 The Bends: Industrial Revolution, baby

Don your wetsuit, grab your oxygen tank, and securely fasten your mask, because this week we’re going on our deepest dive yet. In this episode, we’re plumbing the depths of decompression sickness, aka the bends, to get a better handle on how gases and pressure can be so very deadly. We start out with a bit of Gases 101, examining how decompression sickness occurs and why it affects your body in the ways it does. Next, we explore the not-so-distant history of this disease, a history that...


Ep 103 Leptospirosis: Don't blame the rats

The story of leptospirosis is chock full of variety. In terms of biology, any number of different Leptospira species and serovars can play a role in infection, and the resulting infection can run from asymptomatic to deadly. As for ecology, virtually any mammalian species can either act as an affected reservoir for the pathogens or fall victim to a deadly infection. The history of leptospirosis takes us across continents and through centuries, illustrating how changes in scientific thought...


Ep 102 Arsenic: Paris Green with Envy

“The king of poisons,” “the poison of kings,” “inheritance powder.” As its various nicknames suggest, arsenic’s notoriety largely stems from its use as a murder weapon. But as we explore in this episode, the world of arsenic is much, much bigger than just as a plot device in an Agatha Christie novel, and it remains one of the most important environmental contaminants today. But how exactly does arsenic affect your body? When did people first start to use arsenic and for what purposes? Where...


Wondery Presents: Fed Up

When Emily Gellis hears rumors of people suffering horrible side effects from a trendy diet she springs into action. Armed with over a hundred thousand Instagram followers, Emily launches a social media crusade to expose F-Factor and its founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot. It’s the start of a feud that will attract trolls, lawyers, and, eventually, national media all because of fiber. From Wondery, this is a story about wealth, wellness, and influence hosted by Casey Wilson. Listen to Fed Up:...

Ep 101 Immortality: This Podcast Won't Kill You

For what was originally going to be our 100th regular season episode, we wanted to turn the vaguely threatening title of our podcast on its head by exploring a topic that’s not about something that can kill you but rather the hows and whys of staying alive, forever. That’s right, this week we’re taking on the immense and amorphous concept of immortality, viewed primarily through the lens of biology. Why don’t humans or any other organisms live forever, evolutionarily speaking? What can the...


Ep 100 Monkeypox: Here we go again?

A little over two years into a pandemic, the last thing you probably want to see is headlines announcing yet another disease spreading across the globe. And yet, here we are. Beginning in May 2022, an increasing number of cases of monkeypox have been reported in many countries around the world, both in places where the monkeypox virus is known to occur as well as places where it had previously never been observed. And although the monkeypox virus itself is not new, some of the ways it is...


Ep 99 Salmonella: A hard egg to crack

We’ve all been there: doubled over in pain as stomach cramps grip your guts; the panicked shuffle to the nearest bathroom; the waves of nausea and chills as you cry out loud, “oh no, what did I eat??”. At the very least, food poisoning is a humbling experience, but at the worst, it can be absolutely deadly. In this episode, we take a deep dive into one group of pathogens commonly responsible for outbreaks of food-borne illness, the infamous Salmonella. We start first with an exploration into...


Wondery Presents: The Greatest Con Man Ever?

Introducing the true crime podcast Persona: The French Deception— the story of Gilbert Chikli, one of the greatest con artists of all time. What does it feel like to pick up the phone and scam someone out of $50 million? Host and award-winning journalist, Evan Ratliff, investigates how Chikli successfully duped some of the world’s most powerful people into handing over their fortunes. He explores how Chikli evaded the law for years and became a Robin Hood-like hero. More than just a tale of...


Ep 98 Folate: Marmite, anyone?

It’s been years since our first (and, until now, only) vitamin-centric episode on scurvy, and we’re thrilled to be dipping our toes back into these nutritious waters with this episode on folate. Have you ever wondered why folate is important or what the difference is between folate and folic acid? Or maybe you’re curious about this vitamin’s discovery and the impact that fortification programs have had around the world. Look no further - this episode has got all the folate facts you could...


Special Episode: Snake Venom Evolution

Our snake venom episode last week took us down some fascinating roads, from the pathophysiological effects of these compounds to the snake detection hypothesis and from the development of antivenom to the incidence of snakebite around the world today. But how did we make it through that whole episode without discussing how and why these venoms evolved in the first place? It’s because we were saving it for this one, where we enlisted the expert help of Professor Nick Casewell, Professor of...


Ep 97 Snake Venom: Collateral Damage

How do you feel about snakes? Intrigued or terrified? In awe or creeped out? Of course, those aren’t the only options; the sight or thought of a snake can evoke many different emotions, but chances are indifference isn’t one of them. And is it any wonder? Some snakes can produce incredibly potent venoms that can seriously harm or even kill you, a characteristic that likely helped earn them their prominent role in many cultures and religions as a creature or god to be respected, if not...


Special Episode: Coprolites!

Our tapeworm episode last week mentioned the remarkable finding of tapeworm eggs in a 270 million-year old shark coprolite, that is, fossilized feces. And this certainly wasn’t the first time coprolites have come up on the podcast; we’ve referenced them several times before, mostly when discussing early histories of parasitic worms. But there is so much more to the world of coprolites than just which parasites were found and when. To help us explore all that coprolites can teach us is the...


Ep 96 Tapeworm: We encyst you listen

We can probably all agree that the thought of a tapeworm hiding out in your gut is not a pleasant one. Nor is the image of tapeworm larvae forming cysts in your muscles, organs, and even your brain. So listening to an entire episode on these parasitic worms? We understand why that may seem like a bit much. But trust us, the world of these worms is too fascinating and important to be missed. In this episode, we break down the biology of the tapeworm species that commonly infect humans and...