Lab techs identify cultures to diagnose health conditions

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 10:36 AM

            Senior Airman Austin Shrewsbury, 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutic Squadron medical laboratory technician, left, works with student, Airman 1st Class Taylor Altman, 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutic Squadron medical laboratory technician, to identify bacteria of patient cultures inside the microbiology laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base medical center June 30. The lab technicians identify patient cultures ranging from throat, stools and urine to other cultures such as wounds and blood to diagnose health conditions in patients. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michelle Gigante)
Senior Airman Austin Shrewsbury, 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutic Squadron medical laboratory technician, left, works with student, Airman 1st Class Taylor Altman, 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutic Squadron medical laboratory technician, to identify bacteria of patient cultures inside the microbiology laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base medical center June 30. The lab technicians identify patient cultures ranging from throat, stools and urine to other cultures such as wounds and blood to diagnose health conditions in patients. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michelle Gigante)

They cannot be seen by the naked eye, they live in us and around us – zillions of these amazingly successful organisms, playing crucial roles in our bodies’ health. While some microbes help, others are known best for their role in human diseases.

In the microbe defense arsenal at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center are the 88th Diagnostics and Therapeutic microbiology laboratory technicians working to identify and diagnose infections.

Clinic physicians rely on the microbiology laboratory in the treatment of patients.

“They are very helpful in guiding antibiotic therapy and treating patients optimally,” said Maj. David Lindholm, an infectious disease physician in the 88th Medical Operations Squadron. “We are talking with microbiologists every day to hone in on what is causing infection.”

The 88 DTS microbiologist lab technicians perform diagnostic tests of patient samples and analyze cells underneath a microscope to determine what bacteria or microorganisms may be lurking within them.

“Initially you have to be able to recognize an organism’s characteristics on the agar plate and understand the conditions that it best grows in, to know the direction of testing to go,” said Erin Penney, 88 DTS microbiology technical supervisor.

The common types of microorganisms the team reviews range from throat, stools and urine to other cultures such as wounds and blood.

Once a swab sample has been taken from a patient it is sent to the lab to discern whether it is normal or pathogenic, which takes a great level of skill and practice.

“They give us insight on what’s going on, before we have the final results of the culture,” said Lindholm.

A microbial culture is a method of growing microbes in a predetermined medium under controlled laboratory settings.

While evaluating microbial organisms, the team uses its vast knowledge of the bacteria and other microbes normally found in the body to rule out if it is pathogenic.

The 88 DTS microbiology team has a new analyzer machine, which is proving instrumental to the microbiology lab team and saving time by helping identify the most effective treatment based on the offending microbe and area infected.

“For instance, there are certain drugs that can’t be turned out on certain body sites for certain microbes, and that’s because research will tell you that drug is not good in getting into that body site or maybe it’s not good at getting into that body site after that particular bacteria,” Penney said. “So, we want to make sure those types of drugs and microbe combinations are not relayed to the provider so they stay away from those drugs and they know which ones they should use for that particular site.”

Additionally, the 88 DTS microbiology lab team plays a role in the Department of Defense Flu Season Surveillance Program.

The specimen of any patient, whether admitted or seen in the emergency room, that has been diagnosed with the flu is submitted to the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine epidemiology lab.

The epidemiology lab studies that specimen to determine what strain of flu it is. The data is then sent to the Centers for Disease Control to do a routine surveillance of circulating flu strains for potential vaccine candidates.

With the upcoming flu season, it can be difficult for someone to tell if they have a bacterial or a viral infection.

“If you are feeling very ill, timing is of the essence,” said Penney. “Many folks will wait too long to see a physician, and the longer a bacteria is allowed to grow and develop, the more are released in the body.”

The efforts of the microbiology team at Wright-Patterson AFB can help. It works to get results in a timely manner.

“We know at the end of that, is a patient waiting to have the appropriate treatment, and I can’t say enough for the micro team; they are really passionate to find out what is causing someone to be ill and if they have questions, they are researching to find answers,” said Penney.

“My favorite part is I like seeing the results you can get; the more questions you ask, the more you learn,” said Shannon Heil, 88 DTS microbiology laboratory technician.

White nationalist at University of Florida: Live updates

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 9:12 AM

What You Need To Know: Richard B. Spencer

Florida’s flagship public university braced Thursday for a speech and rally by a white nationalist that was expected to bring thousands of protesters – and, some feared, violent demonstrations -- to its campus. 

>> Read more trending news

Richard Spencer is due to speak from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, about 2 miles from the center of the University of Florida campus.

In this Dec. 6, 2016, file photo, Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)(David J. Phillip/AP)

Texas A&M could be on thin ice in canceling white nationalist rally

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 9:38 PM

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

When a white nationalist spoke at Texas A&M University in December, school officials said they were duty-bound to tolerate free speech, even speech they considered repugnant.

>> Read more trending news 

A&M changed its policy later to bar outside people from using on-campus conference rooms without sponsorship of a university-sanctioned group. No such requirement applies to outdoor events at several free-speech zones on the College Station campus, but the university cited safety concerns Monday in canceling a far-right rally that had been booked through its events staff for next month.

Preston Wiginton, who had organized the rally and lined up use of Rudder Plaza in the heart of campus without a university sponsor, told the American-Statesman on Tuesday that half of him wants to sue A&M and the other half doesn’t want to bother because “A&M, the Texas Legislature and many white people have proven to me that whites accept their own demise.” Later in the day, he said he is pursuing a lawsuit and might walk down a public street through campus with activists and others who had planned to attend the “White Lives Matter” rally that was canceled.

Whether A&M’s cancellation of the event was a violation of Wiginton’s right to free speech would ultimately be up to the courts. But school officials who gathered in President Michael Young’s office on Monday, where the decision was made, were well aware that pulling the plug on the rally could expose the university to legal attack, according to two well-placed sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

In April, a federal judge in Alabama barred Auburn University from blocking white nationalist Richard Spencer from speaking, saying there was no evidence that he advocates violence. Auburn had canceled the event, citing safety concerns, after initially saying it could go forward as an exercise of free speech.

Spencer had been among speakers lined up for the now-canceled event at A&M. He was also the speaker at the December event in A&M’s Memorial Student Center, where he told an audience of more than 400 people that “America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men … This country does belong to white people — culturally, socially and politically.”

Rudder Plaza is one of several outdoor free-speech zones on campus.

“I don’t care if Black Lives Matter is there or if the American Communist Party is there. Why am I not allowed there?” Wiginton said.

A&M’s news release Monday — its only official statement on the matter — cited several reasons, including safety concerns in the wake of race-related violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and disruption of class schedules and pedestrian and bus movement.

“You can’t say that because the Charlottesville rally turned violent, another group’s rally will turn violent because it shares the same viewpoint,” said Samantha Harris, vice president of policy research for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based group that advocates for free speech and religious liberty at colleges and universities.

The argument that anticipated disruption is grounds for cancellation doesn’t hold legal water, said Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago who has written extensively on free speech.

“The anticipation of what might happen is not necessarily what will happen. It’s easy to say we’re afraid of disruption to avoid saying we don’t want the message,” Stone said, adding that opponents of marches for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights have also employed such tactics.

“The question is to what extent could the university reasonably control the disruption,” he said. “It could limit the size of the event, limit the hours, put up barriers. Fundamentally, it’s the responsibility of the university to do whatever it can reasonably do to let the event take place. They do have a right to prevent events where there is a clear and present danger, which usually means waiting until the moment is upon you. You might have to use tear gas or whatever you have to do to disperse people. You can’t prove it up in advance.”

Stone said universities are permitted to require outside groups to be sponsored by student, faculty or staff organizations before securing permission for an event on campus. The University of Texas mandates such sponsorship, whether the events are indoors or outdoors, said spokesman J.B. Bird.

What You Need To Know: Richard B. Spencer

White Nationalists hold flash mob rally in Charlottesville

Published: Saturday, October 07, 2017 @ 10:30 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Richard Spencer led a group of White Nationalists in a “flash mob” style march to Emancipation Park Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

The group carried tiki torches and walked through the streets to the park which has a statue of Robert E. Lee covered in a tarp.

The crowd was heard chanting “You will not replace us,” and “We will be back,” according to WCAV.

The rally, which lasted about 20 minutes, comes about two months after the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville Aug. 12.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam all voiced their opposition to the group. 

“Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards,” Signer said. “You’re not welcome here. Go home.”

The group was led by Spencer, who runs the National Policy Institute and is known for his rhetoric which mixes racism, white nationalism and populism. 

“We came, we triggered, we left,” Spencer said in a tweet. “We did an in and out flash mob. We came in peace tonight. It was a great success and we’re going to do it again.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

University of Florida denies request for white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 11:21 AM

What You Need To Know: Richard B. Spencer

The University of Florida on Wednesday announced that it has denied a request for co-editor and outspoken white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus next month.

>> Read more trending news

Kent Fuchs, president of the university, said last week that the National Policy Institute, which is led by Spencer, contacted officials to reserve space for an event on campus. The event was expected to feature Spencer as a guest speaker. 

But following violent, racially-charged unrest over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, Fuchs said the university denied the National Policy Institute’s request, citing public safety concerns.

>> Related: ‘Alt-right’ activist Richard Spencer plans visit to University of Florida 

“This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville, such as those decreeing: ‘The Next Battlefield is in Florida,’” Fuchs said.

School regulations allow non-university groups, organizations and people to rent space on campus, although the groups are expected to cover rental expenses and security costs.

Posted by Office of the President at University of Florida on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fuchs said no student or university-affiliated groups were sponsoring the event.

“I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” Fuchs said. He added that the university is dedicated to free speech, but added that “the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.”

>> Related: White nationalist rally at A&M canceled, Texas lawmaker says

“The likelihood of violence and potential injury – not the words or ideas – has caused us to take this action,” Fuchs said.

Protests in Charlottesville took a violent turn over the weekend when crowds gathered for a rally organized by white supremacists and aimed at protesting the removal of a Confederate memorial from the city’s Emancipation Park clashed with counterprotesters demonstrating against white supremacism.

>> Related: Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

The protests left several injured and a 32-year-old woman dead.

Police said a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, slammed into two other vehicles and counterprotesters on Saturday, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Fields, of Ohio, faces charges including second-degree murder and malicious wounding.