by Claudia Gutierrez and Simrit (Simi) Warring
Less than 12 hours after our microbiology final exam, we boarded a plane for Costa Rica. We spent a week at the rural Hospital William Allen de Turrialba, which serves local residents and an indigenous Indian population, the Cabécar tribes.
We were greeted in the pediatric unit by a child recovering from cutaneous leishmaniasis. The next patient we met was recovering from Ascaris lumbercoides
so far progressed that the child had had vomiting with worms being excreted from the nose and mouth. The nurse told us the story, “As soon as the child started throwing up, I had to jump forward to grab the worms one by one as fast as I could from the child’s mouth so he wouldn’t choke.”
That morning we toured the microbiology lab. It was an incredible mix of modern technology and practicality. They had fume hoods, automated PCR machines, and microscopes similar to those at Mayo, but had a cart full of stool samples that patients had collected in cleaned out Gerber food jars - talk about being resourceful.