Bacterial Diseases of Humans
Nosocomial (noso = disease, sickness; comi =
care, attention) is a good word to know: it means something that came
from a hospital, as in the phrase, “nosocomial infection.”
A couple useful, related words are iatrogenic (iatro = a physician; gen = bear, produce), which is used to refer to something that was introduced/caused by a doctor, and idiopathic (idio = one’s own, peculiar), which means, “We don’t know why you have that.” An example of the latter would be when you tell a doctor you have a sore throat, and the doctor tells you that you have “idiopathic pharyngitis,” then hands you a bill. The “idiopathic” part of that means, “I don’t know why you have it,” and the “pharyngitis” part of that is medical jargon that simply means, “sore throat,” — but you knew that much when you went to see the doctor!
Thankfully, there are good doctors out there who do work hard and do care about and are willing to talk to their patients, so if you can find one of those, that’s a valuable resource to have. Along with that, though, realize that the internet has changed the way medical advice is obtained. It used to be that, if you asked a doctor, “So, what can I do about it?” and the reply was, “Nothing,” you had to settle for that. Not so any more. Now, you write down the doctor’s diagnosis, go home and immediately do a Google search and a search in our library’s online databases, join a discussion forum, print out and read pertinent journal articles, and do anything else you can to educate yourself and take charge of your health, then go back and discuss it all with your doctor.
Because these bacteria have a lot of peptidoglycan in their cell walls, penicillin is effective for most of these, except where overuse has caused resistant strains. This is especially a problem with S. aureus in hospitals.
“Ring Around the Rosy” is about plague. The rosy red rings are the buboes. I’ve heard two possible explanations for the second line. One explanation suggests that the “Pocket full of posy” refers to the custom of wearing small bags of herbs (like onions or garlic) to prevent plague (which, obviously didn’t work so well). Another explanation suggests that this refers to the pus that forms in the pocket-like buboes. “Ashes, ashes, We all fall down” is a reference to the raging fever and the fact that most people died from the plague.