Seriously infected! …

I decided to have a look at my cheek cells and spit under the microscope. I’ve been feeling a bit sick with flu, so I was interested to see if there is any difference from previous viewings and also to look for bacterial presence. I was shocked to see crazy fungus contamination on the slide. OMG!  No wonder I’ve been feeling so terrible.

Cheek cells with wierd spore clusters and fibres

Cheek cells with weird spore clusters and fibresmouth19313_2

I must admit, I had a bit of a freak out…but then thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was more likely that the slide was dirty or contaminated rather than myself.

Indeed, I once had SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) images taken of my skin, boogas, ear wax and menstrual fluid only to find no evidence of bacteria or other organisms!!!!  I was really surprised. It was still pretty cool to see my bodily excretions this close up!

Ear wax

Ear wax



Menstral fluid blood clot

Menstral fluid blood clot

Although I was really disappointed not to find evidence of strange crawly creatures like this:

Scabies mite.  Image Source: Healthy Life Blog

Scabies mite. Image Source: Healthy Life Blog

Then again….probably good that I don’t actually have scabies!

The notable absence of bacteria and other microflora was however, quite perplexing especially given that we are outnumbered by an estimated 10:1 by non-self cells in our bodies. There are a few possible reasons for the absence of bacteria and other microbes:

  •  The samples were collected at home and processed later at Uni.  This may have resulted in microbes moving on to greener pastures.
  • The preparation process washed surface elements from the surface of the samples. (This is probably more likely as I do not have much experience with sample processing and may have been too rough with my pipetting).

It also seems that that the majority of microbes occupy the interior spaces of our body, rather than just the surface.

Different human microflora

Human microbiome. Image source: Rational Discovery Blog

Indeed, a large number of non-self cells are located in our gut. These bacteria are super important to ensure efficient nutrient processing and digestive health. I remember hearing Dr Karl talk about poo transplants (or fecal bacteriotherapy) on Triple J. Apparently, receiving a ‘reverse enema’ of poo from a healthy ‘digester’ can help individuals with chronic diarrhea and other digestive issues caused by ‘bad’ bacteria.  Gross…and yet kinda cool! (I have yet to find someone who wants my poo – I do offer whenever anyone complains about stomach problems).

Anyway…after checking my cheek cells again with a clean slide, it turns out that everything is A-OK!

Mouth cells.

Mouth cells.

Nothing to worry about and no evidence of bacteria or other creepy things.  (The black dots are spots on the camera lense!) My Edge colleagues can breath easy….for now…

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