Every parent’s nightmare

Sometimes, I’m really, really glad that I didn’t go into medicine. Via Pediatric Grand Rounds and Flea comes this story of a baby’s death from herpes encephalitis. I mentioned previously that, while I work with pathogens that have been isolated from someone who had a serious infection, or even died, it’s easy to just think of them as bacteria, rather than the cause of someone’s death. Just studying their evolution and pathogenicity is interesting unto itself, but sometimes we need to be reminded again *why* we’re studying these–and this story again is one of those reminders.

Comments

  1. #1 Stephen
    November 8, 2006

    And even, “what’s an infection?” is a hard question. The number of bacteria in your body outnumber the cells in your body by something like a factor of ten. (Most bacteria are much smaller than most of your body’s cells.) Adults host something like 10 kilograms of bacteria. And that’s if you’re healthy.

    When your nose runs, and your feet smell – you’re built upside down.

  2. #2 Anuminous
    November 10, 2006

    I worked as a radiation therapist briefly. After my first experience with pediatric oncology (total body irradiation prior to a bone marrow transplant) which failed (patient was determined to not be strong enough to handle the surgery regardless), I had to leave medicine. Now I work in IT. If a ‘patient’ has to be written off now, I strip it for parts and build a new one. Much less angsty.

  3. #3 Buridan
    November 16, 2006

    Working with 19th century death records allows for a certain level of distance, but reading some of the short, accompanying narratives is horrifying at times. We should all be grateful for the work you and your colleagues do Tara. Most people don’t realize how lucky we contemporaries are thanks to modern epidemiology.