Realism in microbiology

I did a ton of microbiology practice cases yesterday and learned a lot – namely, that symptoms are irrelevant.

–  “A woman presented to the ER [x] days after beginning her menstrual period..” = Toxic Shock Syndrome.  Next!

“infant”  + “floppy” = Don’t let your baby eat honey.  Botulism.  Next!

“recently ate a hamburger at a fast food restaurant” = oh good lord, don’t do that!  Never do that!  Hemorrhagic E. coli.  NEXT!

“prosthetic heart valve” = S. epidermidis.  Done!

I wonder if they ever throw irrelevant information into the USMLE questions.  They probably should – it would mean I’d actually have to read the symptoms and think logically.

A female patient walking into the ER with a recently-placed prosthetic heart valve, having just eaten at a fast food restaurant and also started her period two days earlier – that sounds a little more true-to-life than the cases above.

I don’t know how I’d simultaneously treat her TSS, EHEC, and endocarditis though.


13 thoughts on “Realism in microbiology

  1. Contact with cats – Toxoplasmosis
    Daycare – CMV or Parovirus B19
    Sexually active – Gonorrhea, Chlamydia or Syphilis

  2. Cruise ship vomiting = Norovirus
    Daycare Diarrhea = Rotovirus

    Late Prosthetic Heart Valve Endocarditis = Strep viridans (namely following a dental procedure)

  3. Goat hair/African drums – Anthrax **
    Bird droppings – Chlamydia psittaci (“Bird Shit[=psitt] Fever”)
    Daycare diarrhea – Shigella
    Construction in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys – Histoplasma
    Southwest US – Coccidioides
    Transplant patients – Cytomegalovirus
    Heme disorder – Parvovirus

    ** This one is my personal favorite as I have three African drums, all with goat hide heads, plus an African goat hide dance skirt complete with original goat hair scattered about my room. I’m doomed.

  4. A sexually active, IV drug abusing, neonate presents with abdominal pain, headaches, hematuria, visual changes, ataxia, and a cough. He comes to ER accompanied by his cat, chicken, duck, anteater, and wombat. Which bacteria is the likely cause of his symptoms?

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