Vampire Clinic, Part 1

Vampire legends are a global phenomenon, and the trope of the blood-sucking humanoid shows no signs of vanishing from human traditions. But can we trace its origins back to any specific diseases and medical symptoms? In this blood-stained episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick haul up the vampire’s casket and look for signs of rabies, syphilis, dermatitis, tuberculosis and more.

From the Vault: Syphilis

Doctors have called it the great imitator because this destructive venereal disease can manifest almost any symptom. Initially spreading through sexual contact, Syphilis can remain dormant in the body for decades before flaring up again in brutally disfiguring, debilitating and deadly ways. It's difficult to overstate the impact of syphilis on the Western world, and it remains a threat to this day despite effective antibiotic treatments. In this classic episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Julie Douglas explore the history of the illness and its cultural effects, from powdered wigs and false noses to surgical advances and vampire myths. (Originally published August 26-28, 2014) 

Miasma Theory and the Evil Air

Prior to the germ theory of disease, miasma theory ruled the day -- the notion that bad air, full of destructive particles, wafted out from the foul places of the earth to corrupt everything it touched. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the origins or the theory, its effects on society and how it eventually gave way to an accurate understanding of contagion.

Ticks, Mites and Mysterious Lone Star Illnesses

Ticks are, in the words of Pliny the Elder, 'the foulest and nastiest creature that be.' If these blood sucking arachnids and their mite brethren weren’t horrible enough, they’re second only to the mosquito in the risk of blood borne human pathogens. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss ticks, chiggers and the mysterious illnesses associated with the lone star tick -- one of which generates a meat allergy in the host.

Disease Takes Flight on Leathery Wings

Bats have been demonized through history. Our folklore and horror stories tell us they’re something to be afraid of because they’re 'creatures of the night' with weird abilities like echolocation. And recent events tell us they carry diseases that could kill us. But bats could also have super immune systems that allow them to live long lives, avoid cancer and fight off viruses. What can we learn from them? Robert and Christian explore...

The Necessity of Patient Zero

Patient zero looms large in our collective consciousness. Through carelessness, impropriety or sheer twisted luck, they introduce highly contagious pathogens into new human populations -- if not the human species itself. But where does the science end and the game of scapegoating and othering begin? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore the concept of patient zero in science, history and myth.

Curious Incident of the Guinea Worm in the Dog

Humans have waged a decade-spanning war of extinction against the parasitic Guinea worm. With cases down roughly 99.99 percent from 1986, it would seem the struggle is nearly at an end. Now our inhuman adversary has found a new place to hide -- and that place is man's best friend.

Welcome to the Mosquito Factory

In humanity's ongoing war against mosquito borne illness, some of the most innovative offense comes in the form mosquito breeding programs. Yes, these "mosquito factories" are all about manipulating the enemy rather than simply killing them. Join Robert and Christian as they explore the world of GMO mosquitoes, Wolbachia bacteria and the possible wages of mosquito eradication

Tree Man Disease

Imagine a disease that warps and petrifies the flesh, transforming normal skin into bark-like growths that slowly consume the hands and feet. Commonly known as "tree man disease," Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (EV) is one of the rarest medical conditions in the world, yet the extreme, deformative nature of the disease continues to intrigue media consumers around the world. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore the science of EV, it's links to Human Papillomavirus and why we can't look away.