Written with Serratia marcescens bacteria. ©C. Case

Happy Holidays
Christine L. Case




 reindeer Case History:

An 8-year old male reindeer was admitted to the hospital with erythematous rhinitis. Four months before admission the patient was bitten extensively on the end of the snout by arthropod vectors in the warm tundra during August. The owner of the reindeer, a Mr. Claws, noticed that the reindeer scratched his nose repeatedly with his left front hoof.

The recent admission of this reindeer to the hospital was prompted by the need for him to regain his health by December 24, at which time he will be needed to haul sleds.

On examination the patient was found to have a bulbous, erythematous abcess on the end of his snout. The abscess was lanced and drained of yellow-green pus. When the pus was cultured on BHI agar and Gram-stained the resulting microbes were found to be G+ cocci. Penicillin was administered to the patient by injection every six hours (in the form of shots in the butt). However, the patient has not improved sufficiently for him to go back to work. Since laboratory facilities are very limited in the vicinity of magnetic North, your help has been urgently solicited by Dr. Cy Crowfill. Can you suggest an effective antibiotic for penicillin-resistant, erythematous nose syndrome (P.E.N.)?

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance in this urgent matter. And happy holidays to all.

Cy Crowfill, D.V.M.


Yule tree-fungi growing on glucose agar. Top: Talaromyces stipitatus; Tree: Aspergillus nidulans; Ornaments: Penicillium marneffei; Trunk: Aspergillus terreus.

A poem proposing and promoting the prevention of pandemics or
Get Rid of the Red-Nosed Reign, Dear

Track down each red-nosed sniffler,
With throat swabs and serology.
Hunt for each typhoid carrier,
Or donor with hepatitis B.
There could be an epidemic, No one can really say…
But to have a healthy tomorrow,
We'd better get busy today!

Don't forget measles and polio,
Tetanus, diphtheria too!
V.D. and Salmonella, rabies, T.B. and "Q",
Smallpox may now be conquered,
But there's alway something new:
Like Lassa, or MRSA,
Marburg, or Herpes virus 2!

Many years ago, they say,
Disease was in the air.
Plagues and poxes, fevers, fluxes,
Coughing, coffins everywhere:
Now that we can prevent them,
Or many of them anyway,


Text: California Morbidity.