“Urine bugs may be a sign of aggressive prostate cancer”, that was the headline on the BBC news and so I had to take a look. The BBC reports that “scientists have identified urine bacteria which are linked to aggressive prostate cancer” and that “clearing the infection might prevent bad tumours”; the researchers claim they have demonstrated “an association between the presence of bacteria in urine sediments and higher D’Amico risk prostate cancer patients” and that “specific anaerobic bacteria genera have prognostic potential”
The Microbiologist listened, getting increasingly confused. The speaker was saying that the newborn needed to drink its mother’s colostrum milk otherwise it wouldn’t have ANY antibodies. But this didn’t make sense to the Microbiologist; transfer of antibodies to the fetus via the placenta is a fundamental aspect of the immune protection a mother can give her newborn baby. We even rely on transfer by immunising in pregnancy for pertussis (whooping cough) and Covid-19 so that IgG antibody can develop in the mother, cross the placenta, and protect the baby after it has been born. It’s a FACT!
And yet, there was the speaker saying that this newborn HAD to receive its mother’s colostrum or it would have NO antibody. They even took a blood sample from the newborn to check it had antibodies AFTER it had had the colostrum.
“Why are you frowning?” asked the ECIC (AKA Wife).
“It doesn’t make sense” muttered the Microbiologist, “you get antibody in babies by transplacental transfer, not drinking milk.”
“So, you’re saying the experts are wrong and you’re right?”
“No, I’m just confused.”
“Well, that’s because you’re not a vet.” Continuing to mutter under her breathe “didn’t I say I’ll marry you ONLY if you NEVER act in a medical manner towards my cats…”
She had been “warned” about medical interference and the “know-it-all” attitude of medics by her vet!!!
Oh, sorry, did I not say? We were watching This Farming Life (one of our favourite TV shows) and they were talking about Clydesdale foals and whether they must be given the colostrum from the mare!
Sunday night is “Antiques Roadshow night” in our house, every Sunday in the UK the BBC1 broadcast an hour of people bringing their various family heirlooms or jumble sale bargains to antique experts for a brief chat about what they are and how much they are worth. I enjoy the social history side of the show although I find the occasional “money-grabbing” a bit depressing.
Last Sunday, 20th February, was a bit different as I saw a trailer showing something unusual and medical… queue my curiosity! I was glued to the program in anticipation.
It was the last item on the show, and it had been brought in by some school children and their Headmaster and it was this:
There is a change coming to how you will see laboratory culture results reported, but will you know what it means?
Within the UK, as well as most of the rest of Europe, laboratories follow a standard procedure for testing whether bacteria are likely to respond to treatment with different antibiotics. You see this on reports where the laboratory says a bacterium is susceptible (or sensitive) to an antibiotic which they mark with an “S” or resistant to an antibiotic which they mark with an “R”.
But did you notice that sometimes the laboratory puts an “I” for intermediate? And if you did, did you know what intermediate means?
So did you manage to find them all? Here are the answers for all of you still struggling to find those last few pesky bacterial names! Hope you all had a good Christmas and a bit of a break from work (and Covid).
Best wishes for the New Year!
Nuts & Bolts will be back week of the 10th January... see you then...
For Christmas this year we've given you a fiendishly hard wordsearch. Hidden within these letters are the names of 20 bacterial species (NO, Covid-19 is NOT in this wordsearch) - can you find them all? If you can't do it, ask a colleague or your team, someone must be able to find them all...
Above is the wordsearch without the word list if you are really wanting to make it tricky, otherwise the list is attached to the wordsearch below... answers after Christmas...
P.S. Please don't phone your oncall Microbiologist for the answers, they don't have them either! You'll just have to be patient :-)
“May I discuss a patient with you please?” asked the ward Doctor.
“You want to discuss a patient? Okay, but this telephone line is terrible” replied the Microbiologist, wondering whether the “new” telephone system in the hospital was really an “improvement”.
“Sorry, it’s a bit difficult to hear you” said the ward Doctor, “I wanted to discuss a patient with enlarged glands in the neck.”
“What?!” exclaimed the Microbiologist, “you think your patient has glanders! Why do you think they have glanders?”
“Yes, they have large glands …in their neck.”
“Glanders is extremely rare, and very severe, have you started antibiotics?”
“Yes, we want to start antibiotics.”
The telephone line was still terrible, and the Microbiologist was starting to get really worried. He looked at the number listed on the phone recognising it as the Acute Medical Unit where patients were admitted.
“I’m coming to you, wait for me there” said the Microbiologist putting down the phone.
“Blooming Microbiologist,” muttered the ward Doctor, “he just hung up on me!”
What is glanders?
Glanders is principally an infection of “solipeds” …that’s horses, donkeys and mules to you and me. It is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei, a small, Gram-negative, oxidase positive, bacillus, that only replicates inside its living host being unable to survive in the environment. B. mallei is not to be confused with a similar bacterium I blogged about way, way, back in 2017 called Burkholderia pseudomallei which causes a condition called melliodosis and which is able to survive in the environment!
The scientist shuffled slowly into the dimly lit lab, his yellowing lab coat flapping against his legs as he moved between benches scattered with forgotten specimens and broken bits of equipment.
“I wonder what choice morsels you have for me today” he chattered to no one in particular.
Viruses are boring! I mean, what’s the point to viruses? All they do is make us sick, right? You just have to look at the past year to know that, and you can’t turn on the TV without seeing some product that “kills all known germs… including the coronavirus… dead!” Shouldn’t we be trying to eliminate all viruses, wouldn’t the World be better if there were no viruses?
But some say not all viruses are bad for us!? More importantly, some say there would be no humans if there were no viruses!! How stupid is that?!
Well to look at this question, let’s first consider what we are, mammals.
One thing lockdown has taught me is that being outdoors in whatever weather the UK can throw at me is something to be embraced as much as possible. I’ve been fortunate. By being a healthcare worker, I’ve been able to leave the house and get a change of scenery even if it’s just a hospital building. On top of that the ECIC and I have a nice garden we can use at home to relax in the fresh air (sometimes more fresh than is comfortable!).
The ECIC and I are now even more lucky. We have recently been able to buy a bit of land to turn into our own little growing space for fruit and vegetables… okay, this may not be your idea of fun, but we like it…. Whilst we’re busy digging out the brambles and nettles we have been chewing over ideas about how to look after our crops, and one of our problems to solve is water.
The land we have has no mains water. We can collect a lot of water from the roof of our shed and greenhouses (planning permission pending!), but if we need more then we’ll have to look somewhere else. One option is the small stream nearby, so we wandered over to have a look at what it’s like… and it’s ORANGE!
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