Fun at the Hospital
For out last lab before break, the microbiology class visits our local hospital lab. That’s the place where all your specimens go (urine, blood etc.) after you put them on the counter, or into the little window where they disappear. Like Alice through the looking-glass, on the other side we find another world where hundreds of body fluid specimens incubate within what looks like airplane liquor bottles.
The clinician showed us how she inoculates plates of colorful differential agars–blood agar, lactose MacConkey, even “chocolate” agar (a kind of browned blood, for growing Neisseria from possible STD). With bare hands she opened up plates of Pseudomonas from surgical wounds, and Campylobacter from stool samples. Yup, that kind of stool. And she waxed enthusiastic about MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). It’s all over the place she assured us, waving her hands.
Not to worry, the machines test a hundred antibiotics at once; we’re bound to find one that works. That is, unless it’s a virus (viral meningitis), fungus (crypto) or parasite (Giardia) all of which require antigen/antibody tests. Then we’re shown out to the blood bank down the hall, which hopefully remains free of all of the above. All in a day’s work at our friendly hospital.