Boinkie's Blog


Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Miracle Microbe: Serratia marcescens

Some Catholic bloggers were commenting on the Eucharistic host that turned to flesh/blood.

As expected, it was a combination of "mycelia" and bacteria.

Mycelia means yeast. Most women have had yeast infection...usually after a bout of antibiotics. When babies get it in their mouth, it is called thrush.
If you look (and most don't) the yeast infection looks like a layer of cottage cheese...

But in this case, the thick fleshy/cheesy layer was not pure white, like with yeast, nor the expected black from fungi. It was red.

Well, docs know about this germ: Serratia marcescens. It's a germ that is red, and was originally found when some poleta turned into flesh in Italy...

Now, Serratia is a pretty benign bug, and is an unusual color that makes it easy to docs use it to track how germs spread...

This notorious experiment, where the Army released it into the air off SanFrancisco in 1950, was done to track how an enemy could spread germs...

However, people with poor immune systems from illness, chemotherapy, infancy or HIV can get infected with it, and it can contaminate liquids used in hospitals.

So what we have is an amazing stream of coincidences...a host, which should have merely dissolved into the water, just happens to get contaminated with two common germs that grew together to make it appear that it was turning into blood.

So no "big" miracle.

Now, when I was in medical school, one of our popular professors said: You know, we docs usually aren't really very religious. But with all the things we see, most of us do believe there is a God behind the mysteries we see.

So, as a cynical scientific Doc, I would suggest that God just happened to "tweak" this, like the butterfly effect...the yeast "just happened" to be there, and the Serratia "just happened" to grow with the yeast, and more importantly, the usualy bacteria of decay "just happened" NOT to make the host disappear...all of which has caused us to again ponder on the meaning of the Eucharist...


  • I had Serratia M. after leaving hospital in 08. Im currently on combo abx. for Late Lyme...wondering if some of the symptoms we are attributing to neurotoxins of Lyme may, in fact be SM...eye problems,(swelling, scleroderma, keratosis), and sore raised red bumpy areas on the side of tongue-feels as though one side of tongue was burned...have had these symptoms off and on for years-what do you think?
    I know the MICs aren't indicative of Rocephin being drug of choice-but it seemed to me that 2g pd for the past 6 wks (pulsed)
    would be enough to cover it-now I'm doubtful...Aly-

    By Anonymous aly, at 1:46 PM  

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