Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tuberculosis in the News...and in Stuffed Animals

In 2007, tuberculosis made Time Magazine’s top 10 list under the category, “Top 10 Underreported Stories.” The article, “Coming to Grips with TB, ” stated that “41 countries have confirmed cases of extensively drug-resistant TB” and that the failure rate for treatments is very high. Cases of TB continue to climb the drug-resistant ladder, and unfortunately, some doctors still have to use detection and treatment methods that are “some 50 years old.”

However, when tuberculosis reappeared in Time’s top 10 lists in 2008, this time it was mentioned in the category “Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs.” Claudia Lorena Castillo Sanchez, a woman in Spain, had suffered from tuberculosis and lost function of one branch of her trachea. But doctors were able to line a donor trachea with Sanchez’s own adult stem cells (you can read more about it here) and now she is back to her pre-surgery life. While this transplant is still “experimental,” it does give hope for those who have suffered losses from tuberculosis or similar diseases, reinforcing the fact that science is always moving forward.

Staying on my “looking at the bright side” note, have you ever heard of GIANTmicrobes®? They are stuffed animals that look like different microbes—as the website says, “They're humorous, educational, and fun!” Each one comes with a picture and information about the real microbe it portrays, and if that didn’t sell you, they. are. adorable. Well, mostly. Anyway, I’m going to start posting pictures of them as they relate to the diseases we talk about in class. Hopefully it will add a little fun to your day. Here’s TB, and be on the lookout for penicillin sometime this weekend. Woop woop!

[GIANTmicrobes®'s stuffed animal interpretation of TB, pictured here with its microscopic picture and information card.]

1 comment:

John Latto said...

And, as a student pointed out, you can buy the stuffed Chlamydia or Herpes germs and then enjoy telling everyone that you gave your boyfriend/girlfriend (or, more disturbingly, family members) Chlamydia or Herpes for Christmas....