400 days to graduation…

Chris in Slovak Paradise

What feels like forever ago when I first started my diary I was counting up each day another day on my journey to becoming a vet. Now however I am counting down – that is either scary that I will be released onto poor unsuspecting animals, or amazing that I will finally be able to put my hard won skills to good use to make a difference.

I’ve come a long way since I’ve started not just in my knowledge but as a person. I never understood what I was letting myself in for when I got on the plane to come here – back when I started it was only accessible by Budapest and then a road transfer. I realised in Budapest that there were languages other than English – and that not everyone spoke English when trying to find my transfer company. It then got better when I was shouted at in the supermarket when I tried to buy ham – seems that I don’t understand here is mistaken for I cannot hear…

However I love Slovakia – and whilst I have just 400 days left here I am reflecting on what a great country it is. I’ve met some of the nicest people I’ve ever known, and seen some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The culture is amazing – I’ve never been anywhere where I can just walk down main street to find something going on – whether that is drums and folk dancing – or the Christmas market with hot wine in the snow. I’ve been up mountains in the snow – and at times thought I was going die – and then in summer laid by the outdoor swimming pools.

I’ve had opportunities here that I would never have got anywhere else. From anaesthetising a tiger, to working with dolphins, to chasing bulls around hills with a blowpipe. It is not always smooth, and its often crazy organisation – however that is just medicine – it depends on a lot of things and plans often go out the window. I’ve learnt loads, done loads, and seen even more.

So yes I am excited that I only have 400 days left, however I am sad that I only have 400 days left in this beautiful country. Each and every day I will learn a little bit more, both I hope in veterinary and as a person…

Microbiology Test, and Antimicrobial Resistance… (Day 43)

Microbiology antimicrobials zone of inhibition

My day of Microbiology, and my first ever Microbiology test, I am slightly nervous as every professor has their own way of doing tests and so far it’s been pretty different in each case. We’ve been told that it is multiple choice however are not sure just what is going be in it as we have covered a ton of materials even in 5 weeks! It’s slightly daunting to think that this is just the start and they are warming us up slowly, I can now understand why people say that year 2 is the one that makes or breaks you.

Anyways after lecture we headed up to the microbiology lab, and walking in were separated around the room, and given a paper with 10 questions, 8 multiple choice and 2 short answer questions.  Here’s a couple of the questions from memory for you to try at home (you are free to ask Dr Google for help :))…

Q) Which type of microorganism is the Ziehl-Neelson staining method used for?
a) Mycobacterium
b) Brucella
c) Bacillus

Q) Describe the appearance of the R form of microorganism growth on solid agar.

Ok so feel free to free to leave your answer in a comment and I will follow up with my answers in a week or so. I managed to get 7 out of 10 correct (there were the typical MCQ trick questions) so ended up with my first C, not the best however it doesn’t count towards my final grade so with some work I am hopeful I can move it up to a B or even a A. I am definitely finding the understanding of why something works the way it does makes it so much interesting rather than just knowing that a certain test does x when y happens.

Anyways onto the practical, today was on antimicrobials and measuring their effectiveness. The most basic method of this is applying small paper discs soaked in the antimicrobial agent to a plate cultured with a bacteria and seeing if it grows around the disc or not. The bigger the area with no growth the more effective the microbial agent is, here’s my plate and I will show you the result next week.

Microbiology antimicrobials zone of inhibition
Testing different antimicrobial agents

Now Tuesday afternoon is my free time so I attempted to head to the library to get some studying in however they have some kind of book fair on and told me it was closed when I tried going in so I decided to head home and get some more Latin done.

Good vs. Bad Bacteria… (Day 36)

Microbiology enzymatic reactions

Another day of Microbiology with just a week until my first microbiology test so things are getting intense. I’ve got a ton of revision to do next weekend into the different tests used and why they are used which is slightly intimidating. Its not so much about information being complex at the moment but rather the quantity, there is just so much to learn that trying to find space for it all in my head is something that I am still working on!

This mornings lecture we looked at the different cycles necessary for bacteria to live and survive (Carbon Cycle, Nitrogen Cycle etc) and how bacteria is necessary for humans and animals to also survive. We then moved onto looking at the mechanisms of microbial pathogenicity (aka ability to caused disease). There are several different classes of bacteria

  • Saprophytes – These help break down dead organic matter and mostly do not cause disease
  • Commensals – Normal bacteria of healthy host that do not usually cause disease
  • Epiphytes – Bacteria that lives on the skin surface taking nutrition from dead cells and products from the glands of the skin
  • Mutualists – Bacteria where both the host (animal) and bacteria benefit from living together
  • Opportunistic (potential) pathogens – usually do not cause disease however may with immunosupressed or broken skin etc
  • True pathogens – Microorganisms adapted to beating the body defences against disease and usually cannot survive long outside of the body.

Now a while back a scientist called Robert Koch and Friedrich Loeffler defined a set of criteria for linking a cause (microorganism) to a specific disease as follows.

  1. The microorganism must be present in all animals suffering from the disease but not in healthy animals.
  2. The microorganism must be able to be isolated and grown in pure culture.
  3. The pure microorganism must cause the disease when introduced into a healthy animal
  4. The microorganism must be isolated and cultured from this experimentally exposed animal and be identical to the original microorganism used

These were defined back in 1890, and where a breakthrow at the time however they do not account for multiple causative agents or in fact viruses which hadn’t been discovered at the time. In addition there are microorganisms that may exist in both sick and healthy animals which invalidates the first rule. Because of this Kochs postulates have had several proposed revisions however I am not sure if any of these have been formally adopted.

The methods of infection, spread and the infectious dose of microorganisms were then also discussed before the practical. This weeks practical was based on the enzymatic (or metabolic) activity of bacetria. Obviously as a living organism respiration and nutrition are important and we can use these when testing bacteria in the lab.

Microbiology enzymatic reactions
Different tests of microorganism enzymatic activity

As I have previously said, microbiology and microoganism identification can be almost like playing a game of cleudo to identify and match as many properties of an organism as possible to then identify it. These tests not only allow the ability of a microorganism to produce specific chemicals or enzymes but also the ability of it to utilise these from its environment. It is possible to look for gas production and acidity of an organism or  for the ability for a bacteria to break down gelatinase or for the production of coagulase to produce protective barries of fibres around itself.

Hopefully today has been entertaining for you 🙂 Now I need to get on with more revision!