Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Microbiology—I am such a hypochondriac

Im going to be a PhD student in microbiology next year. Weird problem—Ive never taken a course in microbiology. Really! It was a low level course in college, and I didn’t want to take it for an elective when I could take a higher level (aka more interesting) course instead. So I just went straight from general bio courses to virology. I kinda suck when it comes to bacteria, or fungi, or amoebas, or any of the other cool critters out there.

So once a week I want to talk about something that’s not viruses. Very, very hard for me :) But I got to hear this speaker today that was SOOO COOL: Tammy Kielian!

First of all, she was just a kick ass chick—she had a family, a ton of $$$ in grants, and she was a great speaker too. But what pushed her into a whole new level of cool was her research on Staphylococcus aureus. You might have heard it referred to as ‘Staph’ before from a news program—‘Staph’ is infamous for being a problem in hospitals, causing ~12,000 deaths a year. If I recall correctly, that was the official cause of death of one of my grandmothers. Dr. Kielian studies a really weird thing Staph will do… Get into your brain, kill some tissue, and form a big, puss filled abscess.


Yeah. It doenst just get in your brain an obvious way, like a dagger to the forehead—it can contaminate the brain from a dental infection or a sinus infection, or it can spread if a chunk of bacteria dislodge from a main infection site (in the lungs, wherever) and gets stuck in the tiny blood vessels in your brain. Im going to try to read one of her papers tomorrow to give you all the gory details, but one of the major problems of this kind of infection is that its hard to diagnose. Symptoms don’t show until enough brain tissue dies to screw up your motor skills/memory/speech/etc. And the thing is, its not 'that' uncommon. Its not really common like the flu, but evidently a big ball of bacteria in your brain isnt all that rare either! AAAHHH!! **shudder** But one of the few ‘first signs’ is headaches… and Ive got a killer headache today. And Ive had a runny nose since I moved down here. Sure Ive never had a sinus infection, but still, I just know I have a hole in my brain filled with staph and white blood cells and blown up neurons. I just know it.


More to come!

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