TB or not TB? That is congestion

27 Sep 2017

Andrew Blanshard, DTMH September 2017

I know a lot of us on the DTM&H had been looking forward to August. To start our course? To become students again? Nope – The return of the Great British Bake Off. Jealously, I learned that some of my fellow DTM&H-ers had even met the recently departed Flo (departed from GBBO, not dead) at Liverpool’s recent food festival; just one of the many great things constantly going on in the city.

It might have been caramel week in The Bake Off tent, but for us on the DTM&H it has been TB week. Whilst we haven’t had to make any confectionary out of mycobacteria, we have faced our own challenges of understanding the biology and control of Tuberculosis.

For our signature challenge, we spent one of the days in lectures and then doing group work in seminars. This has become a staple of the course, and group discussions about clinical cases has been a great way to apply what we’ve learned to the scenarios that we may face when working abroad and here in the UK.

Our technical challenge involved the staining of a sputum sample. We applied the dyes, got it under the oil immersion and were then able to view some (in my opinion fairly underwhelming) mycobacteria, however bathing the slides in the different dyes was quite satisfying in itself.

Finally the show stopper: a full afternoon of a ‘virtual TB ward round’ where we had the chance to go through more cases in small groups, discussing a range of aspects including multi-drug resistant TB and paediatric infection.

Ok, well maybe it hasn’t been as glamorous as a week in The Bake Off tent (thanks for sticking with me through the analogy) but it has been good to come out the other side feeling that I know a lot more about something I’ve always found unapproachably complicated.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a short Haiku, roughly correlating with our time so far on the DTM&H.


Hello. My name is.

I like swimming outside too.

Who fancies a pint?


Global evidence.

Raise your condenser people!

Furious frothing.


Pale, tired, chronic.

Many different causes.

Who here is O neg?


A tasty blood meal.

Happy birthday. Have a shirt.

Give some A.C.T.


Cough. Get that thick stuff.

Could this be meningitis?

Please take all your pills.