The buzzing sound was driving him mad; a nagging at the back of his mind distracting him from the task at hand. All he had to do was change a fuse in the hospital basement in order to get the power back on in the doctors on call room, but it was proving harder than expected. No wonder no one wanted this post, the hospital was in complete disrepair, the managers had privatised the maintenance services and the rota was a shocker.
The Microbiologist picked up the phone to call out a result.
“This one looks interesting” he said to himself even though he knew he had been told never to use the word interesting in relation to microbiology…. Ever…!
“You have a baby boy on the ward with salmonellosis, what’s the story?” he asked when the Paediatric SHO answered the phone.
“He’s a six week old who developed bloody diarrhoea a couple of days ago and started vomiting. He was febrile and looked septic so we started him on empirical IV Ceftriaxone.”
“Any pets?” asked the Microbiologist.
“He’s only 6 weeks old, why would he have any pets?” answered the tired junior.
“Not him, the family; specifically reptiles. Any snakes or lizards?”
“I have no idea.”
“Well carry on with the IV Ceftriaxone as he has a Salmonella species in his blood culture and call me back about the reptiles… no wait, I’ll come up and ask myself.”
The junior doctor hung up. Muttering to himself about mad Microbiologists he wandered off to get on with some other work.
So why did the Microbiologist want to know about reptiles? Was he just mad or was there method to his madness?
“I think my patient has TB but they have had BCG in the past so I was wondering what might mimic TB?” asked the junior doctor.
“They could have TB” replied the Microbiologist.
“But they’ve had their BCG” replied the junior doctor, gosh he’s not listening, he’s probably playing spider solitaire, thought the junior doctor, as he could hear clicking in the background.
“Yes, but they could still have TB” repeated the Microbiologist.
Deep inhale… “Yes, but they have a BCG scar on their arm, they have been immunised in the past, so they can’t have TB” stated the junior doctor firmly.
You’d think the junior’s right, wouldn’t you? But I’m blogging on it so, who is right? Can you get TB having been immunised with BCG? Let’s talk about BCG first…
Bacteria are clever! Okay, not in the sense of being able to complete cryptic crosswords or even “think” but over the years they have developed many ways of getting around their hosts ability to attack them.
A recent newspaper headline drew my attention to some work done at Newcastle University, in the UK, where they have discovered bacteria doing something a little bit naughty… stripping!