When Bacteria Create False Miracles

in STEMGeekslast month

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You probably heard of stories where religious statues start to bleed blood from the eyes. I’m from a country that puts high emphasis on religious faith and hearing stories about these miracles is more common in the rural areas.

I knew about this phenomenon years back when from a microbiology textbook and it was a pretty cool trivia to know. That being said, working as a resident pathologist, there are seldom cases where consultants of our own or from other departments would discretely come into our office and bring these miracle samples. Of course I knew I already gave away the conclusion to the story from the title but it still fascinates to see these rare event happening.

There's plenty of write ups about the phenomenon online. Just key in S. marcescens and miracles. This stuff has been happening since medieval times. And this is my beef with how history is documented as facts, old historians aren't scientists that were trained with the scientific method to validate claims. So if they just describe stuff to the best of what they are familiar with and ascribe some myth to the tale, they aren't going to be faulted for it. They're not scientists that would doubt their own observations and go through different lengths to test their beliefs.

A statue from a church unnamed started to bleed out from their eyes. The church caretakers took samples and asked their doctor friend if they could have these samples tested discretely. Now the hype starts to build at the idea that if there were indeed blood in the sample, the Vatican would be phoned up to investigate the miracle.

The unwritten protocol in the office is to shut up and pretend we saw nothing. The bring in the sample, make a fake name just to have a front to run some tests to verify whether it’s real blood or not. Of course right off the bat I just spoke out of line and called it Serratia marcescens which immediately made me regret thinking out loud.

You just don’t pop someone’s religious bubble ideas out of the blue. Let the scientific method rule it out. I took the hint and just went out of the office than face the ire. At the back of my head, these people also knew where I was coming from so it’s all good. It’s not that I’ve known my seniors and consultants as having hard feelings, that’s what I like about my working environment but occasional compromise has to be done like me shutting up.

I never got to hear about the outcome of that investigation but given that no publicity came out of it I suppose it’s a fair to arrive at a conclusion there’s none. This post is just a trivia post and investigations do happen to validate the miracle claim. There are some bizarre stories about the phenomenon out there that goes as far as killing the people that prove the whole thing was a hoax but that's beyond the scope of the post. ​

If you made it this far reading, thank you for your time.

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 last month 

I don't often come across Serratia with that textbook red color. More often than not, they are of the boring gray-ish colonies.

Although, on the Chrome agar, it's not uncommon for them to display Halloween-themed colors of orange with black outlines. I'll see if I can take a pic of it the next time I see it.

I've been away from the lab and we don't really culture bacteria often as I'd expect because most of the gram negative species can be identified with quick test kits. Only gram negative organisms get cultured for reasons I have yet to know as my exposure was abruptly cut short due to quarantine. Looking forward to that pic :D

 last month 

You should be culturing whatever you are doing susceptibility testing on.

Rapid identifications are just that, for the clinicians' information. When work volumes get high, we skip straight to the sensitivity testing and hope for the best.

Ideals vs practical, some cost cuttings have to be made living in the 3rd world, doesn't happen often but if the patient can't afford we just hope the antibiotics do their work otherwise its standard culture and sensitivity. Lab costs are like 1/3 to 2/4 of the hospital bill here. Yeah we got whacked health care.

 last month 

That is unfortunate.

Well miracle is a complicating topic. Personally i don't believe in bizzare miracle as bleeding statue and such.
But I do know that miracles do happen, like the lame walking and all that..


Posted via proofofbrain.io

Would it still be a miracle if the phenomenon can be replicated and explained? if you lived in the past and see the world now, what we have now are all magical tools.

Well i guess it's not really a miracle if it can be proved and explained.

if you lived in the past and see the world now, what we have now are all magical tools.

I just paused for a minute to think about this. You are definitely right, perhaps if a prophet was to prophesy of what we have now, they would have probably stoned him to death for blasphemy


Posted via proofofbrain.io

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