Ode to a Pathogen

What ho! Another dog has come to see

The Vet’rinarian, in this wee hour,

With stomach contents laid for all to see

And such odor unlike any sweet flow’r.

What caused this vomiting of food and bile,

Bowels emitting odor quite obscene,

The stool unformed, of crimson hue – and while

The Gram stain dries, His owner’s turning green!

One look into the eyepiece of the scope,

Reveals the answer: there upon the slide,

Magenta-colored rods form strands of rope.

Enteric pests, from us you cannot hide!


O pathogen! Thy logarithmic grow

Rate shall be stopped: Bactericidal drugs

Shall we inject in skin of dog, and lo!

What fate awaiteth these virulent bugs?

Will ribosomal subunits be bound

To halt the lengthening of peptide chains?

No – “grab the ampicillin: pound for pound

This antibiotic will heal thy pains.’

Administered under the skin it goes,

Inhibit cell wall synthesis, it shall;

To kill those pesky Gram-neg anaerobes,

Gut health restored to thine four-legged pal!


Artist’s Statement:

I have chosen to immortalize a common ailment that befalls our canine companions during the break-up season, in the form of a pair of sonnets.

Likely due to our curious little buddies finding and eating some rotting thing that has been buried under the snow for most of the winter, we see many dogs who present with vomiting, diarrhea (most of the time bloody), and dehydration as a result of the first two symptoms. We’re able to see whether or not a bacterial infection is brewing in their GI tract from a Gram stain of a sample from the dog’s tail end. If we find an overgrowth of bacteria on the slide, the patient wins the prize of getting an injection of antibiotics under the skin and a course of antibiotic tablets/capsules to go home with. The choice of antibiotics we use will of course depend on which types of bacteria we see on the slide. For this poem I chose to write about Gram-negative bacilli.

I wanted to showcase how I am able to synthesize information on microbes from two sources: academic knowledge from this course, and applied practical knowledge from on-the-job experience.