Guatemalan Infectious Disease: Up and Running

Rush hour in the carpool lane (Dr. S, Ramos, Martita, Noami and Maria)
USC volunteers Neda Shafai and Wendy Moh assist in the pediatric clinic

Hello health fans! After a week of hiccups and road bumps, we finally began our first round of testing yesterday thanks to the discovery of spare rapid antigen tests, culture plates, and a propane store for our camp grill/Bunsen burner apparatus.

Since my last post, I have come to realize that coordinating research is increasingly difficult as one approaches the holidays in a devoutly Christian country. Patient counts at the clinics have been dropping, our lab supplies have still yet to arrive, and the local water specialist Teresita Flores has had to postpone our meeting twice now. However, Dr. Sinkinson assures me that these issues will cease to pose such a challenge beyond Christmas.

Of the samples we have collected, all three specimen tested negative for Rotavirus, Giardia, and Adenovirus. We are still awaiting for Shigella and Entamoeba histolytica, which will be available tomorrow once the wet mounts have populated with bacteria. According to Dr. Sinkinson, these preliminary results bode well for the study since the symptoms for all three patients suggest Entamoeba histolytica–hopefully, the bacterial colonies on our agar plates agree!

In the mean time, assisting in the free Mayan Medical Aid clinics continues to afford such a unique experience. Alongside fellow pre-med students Neda Shafai and Wendy Moh who were here for the week, I spent most of the week gathering history reports from patients before they see the doctors. Being able to have such direct exposure to the patients and the doctors has already taught us how so much can be accomplished with so little.

With that, I wish you all a joyous Nacimiento from Guatemala!