MathBench > Microbiology

Methods For Counting Cocci

Recap the story

Remember Frank? Frank who had roommate from Sweden? Frank, who accidentally managed to host a few super-virulent meningicocci -- the kind that are common in Sweden, but rare here? Frank, who is now sitting in the doctor's office, looking a bit like one of those angsty teenage vampires, with a jacket over his head to protect his eyes, a rash all over his body, and a neck as stiff as a board? Yeah, that Frank. (If you don't remember Frank, you can reread his story here).

Well anyway, when the young medical intern (you!) cultured some meningicocci, you found that they double just about every half hour. If Frank's body is as nice a place for meningicocci as the petri dish is, you decided Frank should be dead by now. Poor Frank...

Ah, but luckily Frank's body is not quite as cushy as a petri dish, due to his killer immune system, and also the inconvenient fact (if you're a meningicoccus, that is) that Frank's blood keeps its iron safely tucked away inside red blood cells. Curses, foiled again!

Nevertheless, even though Frank's not dead, he's not doing so well either. And what we need to do is to find out just how badly off he really is. We need to measure that infection.

But how?