MathBench > Microbiology

Experimenting with Meningicocci

Our story so far

Remember Frank? He was living with a Swedish roommate, and one day he came down with meningitis. He started with a sore neck in the evening, and by morning he had a pounding headache, an aversion to light, and a rapidly spreading rash. The doctor took one look at him and admitted him to intensive care.

Well, don't worry, poor Frank did survive his ordeal, and he even avoided brain damage. However, once back on his feet, he has a burning desire to find out caused the meningitis.

At first he thought it might have been because he used his roommate's water bottle by accident. However, the doctor explained that he has probably been carrying the meningitis bacteria in his nose and throat for some time now.

More likely, says the doctor, the elbow-in-the-face and resulting nose bleed was to blame. The nosebleed allowed the bacteria to migrate from Frank's nose into his bloodstream, where conditions are somewhat different for meningicocci. But how?

That's what Frank wants to find out now. You are going to help him design an experiment to isolate the factor changed and allowed the meningicocci to go from harmless bystanders to murderous monsters. Ready...?