Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Give someone you love germs & vaccination of zoo animals

The GIANTmicrobes family.

This is a non-sponsored post and I take no responsibility for anyone who goes on an online spree afterwards. This week I was working on a group presentation on dermatophytosis (aka ringworm) when one of my colleagues suggested that we might need a plush model of said organism to illustrate a point.That lead to a visit to the GIANTmicrobes website (here) which lead to the purchasing of Trichophyton mentagrophytes (for the dermatology nerds out there, no, they didn't have M. gypseum or M.canis)...but before I could make it to the checkout I had to look at the Christmas tree decoration microbes...then I remembered a friend who had gastro and added some E.Coli to my trolley...
The E.Coli GIANTmicrobe. "Everyone is welcome at a BBQ...or are they...?"
This isn't my first encounter with this microbe family. A few years ago I gave a microbiologist friend herpes for Christmas. (Oliver originally saw a market for doctors, teachers and students, but the plush germs have been embraced by nerds everywhere. They're even something of a romantic prop - you can buy a heart shaped box containing herpes, pox, papilloma virus, chlamydia and pencillin. You'd really want to make sure your intended recipient is the kind of science geek who would be enamoured with this selection of STIs rather than the kind who might take it literally).

The GIANTmicrobes company is about 12 years old and started by an entrepreneurial bloke called Drew Oliver. The idea came to him when his daughter was sick. A lawyer by trade, but always interested in science, Oliver wondered why no one had come up with a friendly and fun way to explain germs to kids. So he made her the common cold and boom - GIANTmicrobes was born. 
Toxoplasmosis (I love the distinctly feline eyes). Note the striking resemblence to the magnified image of the microorganism.
The zombie-like crazed eyes on the rabies microbes are a nice touch.

There are now more than 100 microbes available, many of veterinary interest (rabies, botulism, mad cow, fleas, heartworm, mange, salmonella etc.)

Heartworm. The real thing is a bit thinner but the heart gives him away.
I'm also rather partial to this sensational neuron (spruced up for graduation).
A brain cell for the graduand in your life?
Speaking of infectious diseases, the University of Edinburgh has paired up with MSD Animal Health to put together a Zoo Mammal Vaccination Database. Given that most vaccines in zoo mammals are off-label its really important to pool the available data. Vets can register and search the database but also contribute information. To register, browse the data base or submit a report visit www.zoovax.com