Top Portable Microscope Reviews

 

Whether you’re simply passionate about observing microorganisms or you do that for a living, you need to use the right equipment and employ the proper techniques to get the best out of those specimens you want to observe under the microscope.

If you’re on the lookout for a quality lab microscope for sale, rest assured that the market is generous enough when it comes to such instruments yet if you’re new to this and you need to learn more about getting your sample ready and, especially, about staining, this post might be of help.

Bacteria staining

In order to observe microorganisms under the microscope, they need to undergo some processes. Growing the bacteria you want to observe is the first step to take and there are several ways and media used to do that.

Depending on the type of bacteria you’re interested in and your observation purposes, you can use one of the following: basal, selective, transport, or enriched media. These techniques will help you grow specific bacteria and/or prohibit the growth of others.

Once you’ve done that and made sure you took this step properly, you will have to get your microorganisms ready for observation and here is where the staining part comes into sight. Its main purpose is to highlight cells and their parts. Just as it happens with the growth techniques, staining can be done using various types of stain.

Bacteria and water have almost the same refractive index and they cannot be seen with the naked eye when under the microscope because they are almost invisible or opaque. Staining thus makes the cells and their components visible. The various substances used for staining adhere to the cell and give it color.

Without staining the bacteria, the microscope will be of little use. Therefore, the specimen to be examined must be fixed and stained properly in order to be visible. By staining them, their morphological features are highlighted for observation.

Depending on the type of stain and the bacteria used, you can observe cell walls and components in a way that will help you visualize metabolic processes, the number of cells within specific biomass, and so on. Not to mention that stains will also help you see dead cells and live cells.

Stain types

As we’ve said before, the purpose of your examination will help you decide which type of stain to use. Since there are over 20 types of stains, it won’t be difficult to find one that will match your exact needs. You can thus find stains that will help you detect proteins and lipids or highlight spores. Of course, the purposes are various, hence the many stain types available.

However, not all stains can be used for living cells. The ones that can be used to observe living organisms, though, include toluene red, Bismarck brown, Nile red and Nile blue as well as fluorescent stains for DNA observation, just to name a few.

For example, Eosin Y is used by medical practitioners interested in conducting a PAP smear. When contacting cytoplasm, red blood cells, and cell membrane, this acid fluorescent stain becomes red. This stain type is also employed for testing blood marrow. What’s great about stains is that different types can be used for the same bacteria sample.

If you use eosin and hematoxylin, you will get a better contrast between the different parts of a cell. The eosin will make the cell turn red whereas the hematoxylin will stain the cell nuclei in blue. It will thus be easier for a medical practitioner to examine blood marrow samples and PAP smears when these two stain types are used together.

By opting for differential stains, that is, for two or more stains, the cells can be categorized into various types or groups. Even if both simple and differential stains allow for the observation of cell morphology, differential stains allow the observer to get more information about the cell wall.

A common type of stain used by hospital workers is Gram’s stain. This is employed to identify harmful microorganisms. The stain involves the use of different colorants that will trigger different effects on different types of microorganisms. There are three steps to take when using the Gram stain.

The first phase involves the use of Hucker’s crystal violet, a colorant that will make all the microorganisms in the sample turn violet. The second step requires the use of iodine to make the color adhere to all cells that are Gram-positive. These are primarily Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.

The stain will then be washed away and Safranin O will be added. This will enhance the contrast between the cells that are Gram-negative and the rest of the cells in the slide. Gram staining is of great importance in medicine as examining the bacteria using this staining method will help the observer know more about a bacterium’s susceptibility to certain antibiotics.

That’s why it is so commonly used. However, there are bacteria that cannot be stained using this standard laboratory procedure (Gram stain). Your observation purpose and the specimens to be examined will help you choose the right stain and method, though.

There are the so-called acid-fast bacteria that, because of the mycolic acid on their cell wall, are resistant to staining procedures. They are called acid-fast bacteria because of their resistance to decolorization with acid alcohol. For example, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a Gram-resistant microorganism and thus it should be stained with an acid-fast stain.

This bacterium can be colored with the Ziehl-Neelsen staining which includes the use of red colored Carbol fuchsin to stain the microorganism and Malachite Green or Methylene blue as a counterstain to ensure a contrasting background.

Thanks to the phenol in the Carbol fuchsin used, the cell walls are solubilized. Heat should be used to help the stain penetrate the bacterium better, make it visible, and thus allow for proper observation.

Staining procedures

Since there are different types of stains used for microscopy and different purposes for examining bacteria, the staining procedures employed can be different, too. The specimen that is being prepared for examination on the slide can be either dry-mounted or wet-mounted, smeared or sliced into a thin section.

If a stain is used, then the specimen should be wet-mounted. This procedure means that you should use a clean dropper to place a bit of water on the slide (just a drop), set your bacteria sample in the water, and then use a coverslip to cover it.

Use the dropper to apply the stain but place it at the corner of the slide in order for it to be drawn to the bacteria by capillary action. Use absorbent paper on the opposite side of the slide to remove excess water. Examine the specimen only when the stain has covered the entire slide.

Sometimes, when simple staining is required, the sample is immersed (before or after it has been fixed and mounted) in the dye solution, rinsed, and then observed. Of course, there are other staining procedures and techniques and your specific purposes and the specimens to be examined will help choose the appropriate one.

Regardless of the stain type and method employed, make sure you follow the required steps carefully. Not paying utmost attention can affect what you get to see when you place the sample under the microscope. A little mistake might render your sample useless.

However, when the sample is perfect for observation, the stain did its job and highlighted the cell and its parts, and you use a quality microscope, it is quite fascinating to see these tiny organisms and examine their morphology. One can almost never cease to be awed by these organisms and the forms life can take.

 

 

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If you’re a lot into exploring and your need to quench your curiosity has now taken you to the realm of microorganisms, getting a good microscope to help you with that might not be enough if you want to actually understand what you see when using such a device. You can check out various resources for more info on such instruments yet a bit of biology theory is also needed.

To help you identify the various types of bacteria and do so easily and properly, we have briefly described below some of the characteristics that set each type apart, so check out this post to learn more about bacteria morphology.

Types of bacteria based on morphology

There are many organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye yet, thanks to the latest technological achievements, we can easily discover a new world. Here is where microscopes come into sight.

Many of us tend to get a bit of a shiver when the word bacteria is uttered but these microorganisms are everywhere. It’s true that while some of them are beneficial, others are harmful and, when growing in great numbers, may cause various health issues. That’s why examining them under a microscope is now a common procedure in the medical field.

Still, if you’re interested in learning more about these single-celled organisms as a spare time activity, getting the bacteria under your microscope, after you’ve taken the appropriate steps for a proper observation, might not tell or show you much if you don’t know a few basic things about the various types of bacteria.

You may not want to know everything in minute detail but being able to identify some of the most common bacteria will surely trigger some sort of contentment. Even if these organisms are very small, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Based on their shape, bacteria are divided into the following categories.

The most common ones are the Coccus bacteria, known as cocci, that have a spherical or even ovoid shape. This type of microorganisms is further divided into other subclasses including the Diplococcus, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus.

These bacteria occur in pairs (diplococci), as a long chain (streptococci), in clusters (staphylococci), or even in groups of four (tetrads) thus forming a square structure.

Examining microorganisms under the microscope will also enable you to see rod-like bacteria and when that happens you probably have a Bacillus in front of your eyes. Found in a variety of taxonomic groups of bacteria, bacilli may occur either as single cells, pairs, or chains.

A microscope session can also get you to see the so-called Vibrios, comma-shaped bacteria that got their name from their vibratory motility. They feature a flagellum on one end, which enables them to move around.

Unlike these bacteria, Spirilla have a flagellum on each of their two ends, a feature that helps them move faster in an aquatic environment. As their name suggests, these microorganisms have a spiral shape.

Of course, based on morphology, there are other types of bacteria. You will also find the Spirochetes that have a flexible spiral form with a type of motion that has been associated with a corkscrew motion, the Actinomycetes, which get their name from their resemblance with the sun rays, and the Mycoplasmas.

The latter type comes in different shapes because these microorganisms lack cell walls and thus change their morphology. They can occur as elongated or spherical bodies and even as interlacing filaments.

Types of bacteria based on how they stain

You may have heard of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and wondered about the meaning of this. Bacteria can be further divided into these two types based on how they stain. The gram-negative bacteria lose their primary stain during decolorization because their Peptidoglycan layer is thin.

However, when viewing them under the microscope, you will see that they will have a reddish color as a result of the stain used (safranin). This type of bacteria includes Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp, and Enterobacter spp.

The gram-positive bacteria are the opposite and thus retain the primary stain. That’s possible because of the thickness of their Peptidoglycan layer. These microorganisms appear bluish or purple under the microscope. Examples of gram-positive bacteria include Clostridium botulinum and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

How to get your bacteria ready for observation

Now, getting to that part where you actually observe and identify the above-mentioned microorganisms requires a few steps. The first phase is to grow the bacteria in culture media. There are various ways to do that. If, for example, you want to observe Staphylococcus, you can opt for the basal media.

In case you need to grow a specific type of bacteria yet prohibit others from doing so, it is recommended to use selective media such as the Lowenstein-Jensen media. Then you can also employ the enriched media that will help you grow a specific type of bacteria by adding a special component. If you want to grow Streptococci, adding blood will help you with that.

Your specific needs will help you choose the right media to get your bacteria ready for observation. Once you’ve taken care of this step and your bacteria sample is ready, you will have to get the following: distilled water, a Bunsen burner, an inoculating loop, a dropper, a marking pencil, and, of course, a compound microscope and a glass slide.

If you’re all set up, start your lab session by marking a circle on a clean slide in order to have a spot for the smear. This is where you should place the distilled water with the dropper. In case you use the loop, flame it with the Bunsen burner. If you have chosen broth for the media, it is no longer necessary to use distilled water. Also, ensure that the dropper is clean and you use just a drop of water.

Make sure the loop is being passed through the flame and cooled before you scoop the bacteria sample from the Petri dish or the tube you’ve used to grow the microorganisms. If you want to preserve the remaining of the sample and thus avoid contamination, flame the tips of the tube and cover it with the lid only after you’ve done that.

Once you’ve scooped the sample, mix it with the distilled water you’ve placed on the slide and let it air dry completely. To help the stain penetrate the cells better, pass the slide over the flame a few times to fix the smear.

To stain the bacteria sample, you will have to cover it with a gram stain for one minute. You can use safranin, methylene blue, or crystal violet. If there’s too much stain, remove the excess by gently running a bit of water along the slide. Use absorbent paper to remove excess stain or water.

Your sample should now be ready for observation. Make sure you start with low power, though. In case you want to use high power, you should add immersion oil. If you follow these steps, you should be able to observe these microorganisms properly.

There are various staining methods and stain types you can use. They vary since the observation purposes and the specimens used vary. Once you’ve chosen the stain and the method you want to employ, be sure you get all the necessary information to carry out this procedure properly and thus enjoy satisfying results.

A little mistake may affect what you see when you place the sample under the microscope. That’s why utmost attention is required throughout the entire process. Regardless of your observation purposes, the process itself can be a feast for those interested in diving into what cannot be seen without special instruments such as microscopes.

 

 

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If you have yet to find the time to research high-quality dissecting microscopes, be sure to take a look at our recent post. In this comprehensive article, we are going to talk to you about why microscopes are a vital part of the process of jewelry making.

So, if you want to learn more about this topic, keep reading as we are sure you’ll find plenty of info!

Why are microscopes an essential part of jewelry making?

As you probably know, making jewelry is a process that requires plenty of attention to details. According to jewelers, quality tools and equipment are crucial to have. Although they might seem expensive at first, having quality tools is important because they help one construct better pieces of jewelry.

Because microscopes feature magnification, they help craftsmen by reducing eye strain and fatigue. Plus, they provide users with a large, in-depth field of view. As a result, the jeweler can see both the bottom and the top of the piece at once. This way, he/she can use equipment such as pliers or solder irons easier.

Usually, jewelers use microscopes when they have to set stones, to grade diamonds or to appraise the value of different gemstones.

 

What features should one look for in a product of this kind?

First things first, the ergonomics of the device are vital. The model that you decide to purchase should provide you with an optimal working position so that you do not feel muscle or shoulder strain. As a result, you will not lose your concentration easily and you will feel like your work is more enjoyable.

To cater to the needs of all their customers, some manufacturers distribute microscopes that can be customized to fit one’s needs perfectly. This is a plus according to seasoned jewelers.

What is more, a microscope should also provide the owners with freedom of movement. For instance, a model that includes a flex arm stand is ideal for a jeweler because it supplies him/her with plenty of flexibility.

If a unit provides the user with a large working distance, he/she will have sufficient room to handle his/her tools with more ease. Also, a model that requires little refocusing is perfect for the job as it does not require you to focus it time and time again while working.

Lighting is also considered important. From this point of view, it is advisable that you select a product that includes ring lights that distribute the light homogeneously. For added convenience, you can also acquire an optional light diffuser that can help reduce reflection.

Magnification and gem clip

According to specialized jewel makers, the microscope that you buy should have a magnification ratio of at least 10x. Higher magnification units might also come in handy, especially if you like to analyze whether or not the stones that you are using have imperfections.  

When viewing stones or gems in general under the microscope, a stone holder is important to have. A stone holder is usually made of wire and it can be attached to the stage of the microscope.

A good holder can hold, for instance, a ring in place in the desired position so that you can zoom in on the desired section with ease.

Models that do not include a holder are not as convenient. However, if this is the case with the device that you like, you can use a clip on the bottom of the jewelry or you can simply hold without moving it while adjusting the focus.

As expected, doing so is a tad problematic because any slight movement can cause the item to get out of focus. Given this situation, the specialists say that those who do detailed work have to invest in a stone holder.

 

Darkfield vs. brightfield illumination

Another feature that is considered a must by jewel makers is a darkfield. This is true because viewing diamonds and other gemstones over a black background is not as blinding and distracting. The main role of a darkfield is to not allow brightness to bounce back at you.

By comparison, a model that only features brightfield illumination is only suitable when working with slides and flat objects in general. Thus, it is not as practical to use by a jeweler.

 

Camera

If you want to take detailed pictures of the pieces that you are making, selecting a microscope that has a built-in camera is the way to go. Still, before you jump to the chance of buying an item of this kind that features a camera, you should look at the quality of the pictures that it can take.

On top of that, remember that there are also products that allow users to actually record or to stream recordings live. This way, you will be able to share the jewelry-making process with your friends.

If you decide to get a model that includes a camera, it is best that you read the reviews left by fellow owners. When you do so, it is indicated that you look for a unit that has user-friendly software so that you will be able to utilize it without any difficulties.

 

Design

Those who are interested in getting a microscope that can be used when making jewelry should only look for products with two lens eyepieces. This feature makes the entire process more convenient as you will not be obliged to look at the piece that you are making with just one eye.

Consequently, you will end up being able to work longer hours and to focus better on the details that you want to perfect.

Invest in additional light sources

Most microscopes currently available usually come supplied with a single light source. However, as any jeweler will tell you, this is not enough. Therefore, you should go online and search for an extra light source that you can place on your work surface.

By doing so, you will have no problems when it comes to seeing pinpoints in the stones that you are working with as well as other similar minute details.

 

Price

If you are a novice that is not ready to make a significant investment in a top-notch microscope, it is best that, before you start exploring the market, you set up a budget and that you stick to it. Another thing that you should not ignore when shopping in this line of products is that these devices do not come cheap.

While a microscope for kids costs somewhere between 80 and 250 dollars, a model that was specially designed to be utilized by jewelers and engravers is much more expensive. So, before you decide to buy one, you should make sure that you are ready to pay a lot of money on it.

If you are an amateur jewelry maker, chances are that you won’t need a high-quality unit that comes provided with features that help one assess the true value of gems. Instead, you should look for a choice that has minimal features and that is easy to operate.

Once you get better and you feel like you need a better microscope, you can start analyzing the market again and try to find an upgrade.

 

 

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Finding microscopes for elementary students is not an easy task. In this article, we have decided to supply you with all the info that you need in order to find microscopes that can be used in schools. So, keep reading and see what you need to know before placing any orders!

Simple vs. compound models

Currently, the market is filled with two types of microscopes: simple and compound ones. A simple model has a single lens, while a compound one comes provided with both an eyepiece and an objective.

According to the specialists, you should always select compound microscopes for school use because the simple units are prone to show too much image aberration. As a result, the students will not be able to have a good view of the specimen that is being examined, and, thus, they are prone to lose their interest pretty quickly.

 

High vs. low power

Another decision that you have to make is between high-power and low-power models. Normally, schools often select high-power units when it comes to equipping their labs. These options are preferred because they have a generous magnification range.

However, the dissecting or stereo microscopes that fall into the low power category of microscopes should also be considered. They are very practical during lessons because they can increase the size of the specimen that is being analyzed. These models can be used when looking at plants or bugs during classes.

While low-power microscopes are suitable for elementary school, it is widely recommended that high school laboratories are provided with high-quality devices.

If you are teaching in a lab that is equipped with laptops or computers, digital microscopes should also be taken into consideration. These units are very practical because they allow the students who are using them to take photographs of the specimens being analyzed.

 

Durability

Because the product that you end up with will be used by many students throughout the years, it is vital that you select one that is made of high-quality materials. From this point of view, it is recommended that you get a microscope that features a metal case.

Plus, you should also check out the quality of the optics that the unit includes. Specialists argue that one should avoid purchasing a microscope that comes fitted with optics made of plastic, as they are prone to break easily.

Moreover, all the components made of plastic that a product of this kind features can be affected by heat and even destroyed.

 

Light systems

A key factor that enables a microscope user to take a good look at the specimen that he/she is analyzing is the presence of a light source. Not all kinds of microscopes include light sources. However, there are models that come fitted with not just one, but two light bulbs so that sufficient light is supplied at all times.

The kind of bulbs that are used for illumination also vary from one model to another. For instance, halogen bulbs are not very popular now because there have been numerous studies that have shown that they can affect the user’s health.

As an alternative, there are tungsten and fluorescent bulbs that you can try. Yet, they are rather expensive. Because of this, many argue that LED light sources are the best choice. What is more, the units that include LED lights are portable because the lighting system runs on batteries.

Weight and size

Because in a classroom you will most probably have to move the microscope around quite often, it is also recommended that you select a unit that is not particularly heavy. Also, it should have a design that makes it easy to be picked up and carried by a single person.

When it comes to size, it should be mentioned that an appropriate unit has to fit in the storage space that is available. It should also not feature parts that are movable or that can come off easily.

 

Safety and maintenance

If in the classroom where you are teaching there are consistent changes in temperature and humidity, it is also advisable that you acquire a unit that has been coated with a special substance that prevents bacteria from spreading. Moreover, keep in mind that there are products that have been tested for mold growth.

Maintenance-wise, the microscope that you select has to be easy to service. In other words, the unit should be easy to clean and maintain. On-site service is another feature that you should look for in a product of this type.

 

Usability and image quality

For a microscope to be suitable for classroom use, the unit should be simple to use. That is, it should only require minimal adjustments in order for the students to see something. This way, they will remain engaged and eager to hear what the teacher has to say.

With this in mind, it might also help to label all the parts of the unit so that the students know what parts to move when instructed to do so. The fewer removable parts a microscope has, the easier it is for the students to utilize it.

Optical performance is another important aspect that you should not ignore. A microscope that produces high-quality images that have a good resolution and good contrast is better than one that underperforms in this regard.

Accessories

Because manufacturers are trying to supply all interested buyers with suitable products, there are also plenty of accessories that you can get depending on the requirements of the subject that one teaches. For example, for a geology class, you can buy certain contrast filters or kits such as polarization.

 

Course level and budget

Another vital aspect that you should consider is the course level. If you need a microscope that can be used when teaching high schoolers, you do not have to select one that has the same capabilities as one that is meant to be used for advanced pathology courses.

To make the process of finding a microscope as easy as possible, some sellers have also prepared classifications of the products that they distribute, in accordance with the needs of the students.

The budget that you have available is also an important factor that should not be neglected. If you have a strict budget, it is best that you analyze the available models and that you select the one that suits the needs of the students best.

Although it might sound tempting for those that are short on money, settling for a second-hand unit should not be considered. This is not advisable because, if you do not have the experience needed to understand whether or not a microscope is functional, there is a high chance that you will end up with a model that does not perform as expected.

You should also not compromise and get a microscope that cannot supply users with high-quality images. If the product that you want to get is over your budgetary possibilities, it is better to wait and save some more money in order to get it.

What is more, before you make a decision, we recommend that you go online and that you read the reviews that a certain item has received from both specialists and current owners. This will help you select a microscope that can cater to your needs perfectly.

 

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In our recent article, we have learned how to choose the right microscope for kids that will help your little one learn more about the world that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Your child might have increased interest in science and biology and a good microscope could definitely help him/her satisfy all his/her curiosities.

Furthermore, your little one might want to learn more about certain external factors that can affect our health, and if so, in this article, you will find many interesting things about Bacillus anthracis. If we captured your attention, you should read more to gain all the necessary information that will offer you a better understanding of how dangerous this bacterium is.

Bacterial infection

Bacillus anthracis is the bacterium that causes anthrax and even if it is mostly known to cause a bacterial infection in livestock, there are situations when it can also affect humans. Also, its spores can contaminate the soil in many parts of the world. The name comes from the Greek word for coal, anthrax, because once infected the victim will experience black, coal-like, cutaneous eschars.

Besides being found in soil, spores also thrive in animal carcasses, feces, and animal products such as wool and hides. There are various animals such as cats, dogs, rats, and swine that are very resistant to anthrax. Another interesting aspect about this bacterium which makes it a bit different than many bacteria is that its spores can stay inactive in the soil for decades.

Anthrax spores can be compared to eggs as they can hatch under special conditions and they will germinate into active bacteria. That is why the spores are not very dangerous and they are not able to cause too much of a damage to tissue. But, as soon as they get into the body, they will start to transform into harmful disease-causing bacteria.

The bacterial infection has been discovered in 1850 by a German physician named Robert Koch and it is believed to be the first bacterium that was able to cause disease. The scientist managed to grow the anthrax bacteria in culture plates and then injected them into animals and he could prove that the animals got sick.

Later, the French scientist Louis Pasteur, who is mostly known for pasteurizing milk, had the idea to use damaged anthrax bacteria to develop a vaccine for anthrax. His experiment was a success and he was able to show that the vaccine can protect the animals from getting the disease.

How people are affected

It is easy to imagine that people will get infected with anthrax if the spores will manage to enter their bodies. As we have already mentioned, the spores will become active and this is when they become anthrax bacteria. Also, it is very important to know that the bacteria can multiply and can spread inside the body when they start producing toxins that can lead to severe illness.

If you were wondering how the spores manage to enter a human’s body, you should know that they can be inhaled when people breathe them in. When an individual breathes the spores, they will end up in the lungs and they will start germinating there and cause inhalation anthrax. It is believed that the most deadly form of infection is the pulmonary one.

When the spores are inhaled, the victim will start experiencing hemorrhagic pneumonia along with associated pleural effusion. Moreover, the organisms are able to travel inside the body and they will spread to the lymph nodes where they will produce hemorrhagic mediastinitis. The next symptoms are bacteremia, toxic shock, and in many cases, death.

Another type of anthrax is the gastrointestinal one that occurs when people drink water or eat food that is contaminated with spores. Also, if a person has a cut or a scrape on the skin, the spores will be able to enter those areas and will start germinating there and cause cutaneous anthrax.

Cutaneous penetration starts with a necrotic eschar that will extend to blood vessels very fast which will lead to bacteremia, sepsis, meningitis, and death. Also, it is considered the most common form of anthrax that accounts for over 90% of all human cases. Another type of anthrax that has been discovered recently is injection anthrax present among people injecting heroin.

 

Bioterrorism

A very interesting aspect of Bacillus anthracis is that its spores can be used in bioterrorism. Bioterrorism is a form of terrorism when certain bacteria, viruses, or other germs are used, in order to harm people. For that reason, most people also refer to it as germ warfare, as the name is more intuitive and easier to understand.

We are all familiar with the definition of terrorism released by the US government, which is the unlawful use of force and violence against other people and their property for intimidation or coercion in order to achieve certain social or political objectives or goals. When we say terrorism we don’t have a particular weapon in mind that is being used.

That is why the name will change into bioterrorism in order to make a clear distinction regarding the type of weapons that are being utilized. The reason why terrorists choose to use a biological agent to harm people is to scare them and to make them believe that the government is not strong enough to protect them.

Bacillus anthracis has gained plenty of attention because the terrorists can access its spores quite easily, and that is why it is considered the most likely agents to be used in a biological attack. Besides being able to produce anthrax spores in a lab, they can also be found in nature. The scariest part is that they are able to last for a very long time in the environment.

Even though Bacillus anthracis is susceptible to common antibiotics, in the recent decade many scientists started to worry over the potential existence of anthrax that is weaponized and resistant to antibiotics. That is why extensive planning has been prompted in order to avoid any potential terrorist attacks.

Anthrax vaccine

It is extremely important to know that there is a vaccine to prevent anthrax. However, the vaccine is not available for the general public and only certain US military personnel or laboratory workers have access to it.

Other individuals who may get the vaccine are those who work with animals or animal products or anyone who presents an increased risk of getting infected with the bacterium. Even if this vaccine works well, it cannot prevent all cases – if the people are vaccinated before the exposure to the bacteria, the study showed that the vaccine will manage to protect 9 out of 10.

Also, not anyone can get this vaccine as it depends on age and health conditions, and that is why it is always recommended to discuss with your healthcare professional and ask for more information. Moreover, individuals who had to take a dose of the anthrax vaccine in the past and have had severe allergic reactions will not be able to get another dose.

The same goes for those people who have certain allergies to any vaccine component – they don’t qualify for the vaccine. In the US there is only one type of anthrax vaccine, BioThrax which is only given to individuals that are 18 to 65 years old in combination with antibiotics.

 

 

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Scales | History, Benefits & Common Uses

 

Whether you’re simply passionate about observing microorganisms or you do that for a living, you need to use the right equipment and employ the proper techniques to get the best out of those specimens you want to observe under the microscope.

If you’re on the lookout for a quality lab microscope for sale, rest assured that the market is generous enough when it comes to such instruments yet if you’re new to this and you need to learn more about getting your sample ready and, especially, about staining, this post might be of help.

Bacteria staining

In order to observe microorganisms under the microscope, they need to undergo some processes. Growing the bacteria you want to observe is the first step to take and there are several ways and media used to do that.

Depending on the type of bacteria you’re interested in and your observation purposes, you can use one of the following: basal, selective, transport, or enriched media. These techniques will help you grow specific bacteria and/or prohibit the growth of others.

Once you’ve done that and made sure you took this step properly, you will have to get your microorganisms ready for observation and here is where the staining part comes into sight. Its main purpose is to highlight cells and their parts. Just as it happens with the growth techniques, staining can be done using various types of stain.

Bacteria and water have almost the same refractive index and they cannot be seen with the naked eye when under the microscope because they are almost invisible or opaque. Staining thus makes the cells and their components visible. The various substances used for staining adhere to the cell and give it color.

Without staining the bacteria, the microscope will be of little use. Therefore, the specimen to be examined must be fixed and stained properly in order to be visible. By staining them, their morphological features are highlighted for observation.

Depending on the type of stain and the bacteria used, you can observe cell walls and components in a way that will help you visualize metabolic processes, the number of cells within specific biomass, and so on. Not to mention that stains will also help you see dead cells and live cells.

Stain types

As we’ve said before, the purpose of your examination will help you decide which type of stain to use. Since there are over 20 types of stains, it won’t be difficult to find one that will match your exact needs. You can thus find stains that will help you detect proteins and lipids or highlight spores. Of course, the purposes are various, hence the many stain types available.

However, not all stains can be used for living cells. The ones that can be used to observe living organisms, though, include toluene red, Bismarck brown, Nile red and Nile blue as well as fluorescent stains for DNA observation, just to name a few.

For example, Eosin Y is used by medical practitioners interested in conducting a PAP smear. When contacting cytoplasm, red blood cells, and cell membrane, this acid fluorescent stain becomes red. This stain type is also employed for testing blood marrow. What’s great about stains is that different types can be used for the same bacteria sample.

If you use eosin and hematoxylin, you will get a better contrast between the different parts of a cell. The eosin will make the cell turn red whereas the hematoxylin will stain the cell nuclei in blue. It will thus be easier for a medical practitioner to examine blood marrow samples and PAP smears when these two stain types are used together.

By opting for differential stains, that is, for two or more stains, the cells can be categorized into various types or groups. Even if both simple and differential stains allow for the observation of cell morphology, differential stains allow the observer to get more information about the cell wall.

A common type of stain used by hospital workers is Gram’s stain. This is employed to identify harmful microorganisms. The stain involves the use of different colorants that will trigger different effects on different types of microorganisms. There are three steps to take when using the Gram stain.

The first phase involves the use of Hucker’s crystal violet, a colorant that will make all the microorganisms in the sample turn violet. The second step requires the use of iodine to make the color adhere to all cells that are Gram-positive. These are primarily Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.

The stain will then be washed away and Safranin O will be added. This will enhance the contrast between the cells that are Gram-negative and the rest of the cells in the slide. Gram staining is of great importance in medicine as examining the bacteria using this staining method will help the observer know more about a bacterium’s susceptibility to certain antibiotics.

That’s why it is so commonly used. However, there are bacteria that cannot be stained using this standard laboratory procedure (Gram stain). Your observation purpose and the specimens to be examined will help you choose the right stain and method, though.

There are the so-called acid-fast bacteria that, because of the mycolic acid on their cell wall, are resistant to staining procedures. They are called acid-fast bacteria because of their resistance to decolorization with acid alcohol. For example, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a Gram-resistant microorganism and thus it should be stained with an acid-fast stain.

This bacterium can be colored with the Ziehl-Neelsen staining which includes the use of red colored Carbol fuchsin to stain the microorganism and Malachite Green or Methylene blue as a counterstain to ensure a contrasting background.

Thanks to the phenol in the Carbol fuchsin used, the cell walls are solubilized. Heat should be used to help the stain penetrate the bacterium better, make it visible, and thus allow for proper observation.

Staining procedures

Since there are different types of stains used for microscopy and different purposes for examining bacteria, the staining procedures employed can be different, too. The specimen that is being prepared for examination on the slide can be either dry-mounted or wet-mounted, smeared or sliced into a thin section.

If a stain is used, then the specimen should be wet-mounted. This procedure means that you should use a clean dropper to place a bit of water on the slide (just a drop), set your bacteria sample in the water, and then use a coverslip to cover it.

Use the dropper to apply the stain but place it at the corner of the slide in order for it to be drawn to the bacteria by capillary action. Use absorbent paper on the opposite side of the slide to remove excess water. Examine the specimen only when the stain has covered the entire slide.

Sometimes, when simple staining is required, the sample is immersed (before or after it has been fixed and mounted) in the dye solution, rinsed, and then observed. Of course, there are other staining procedures and techniques and your specific purposes and the specimens to be examined will help choose the appropriate one.

Regardless of the stain type and method employed, make sure you follow the required steps carefully. Not paying utmost attention can affect what you get to see when you place the sample under the microscope. A little mistake might render your sample useless.

However, when the sample is perfect for observation, the stain did its job and highlighted the cell and its parts, and you use a quality microscope, it is quite fascinating to see these tiny organisms and examine their morphology. One can almost never cease to be awed by these organisms and the forms life can take.

 

 

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If you’re a lot into exploring and your need to quench your curiosity has now taken you to the realm of microorganisms, getting a good microscope to help you with that might not be enough if you want to actually understand what you see when using such a device. You can check out various resources for more info on such instruments yet a bit of biology theory is also needed.

To help you identify the various types of bacteria and do so easily and properly, we have briefly described below some of the characteristics that set each type apart, so check out this post to learn more about bacteria morphology.

Types of bacteria based on morphology

There are many organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye yet, thanks to the latest technological achievements, we can easily discover a new world. Here is where microscopes come into sight.

Many of us tend to get a bit of a shiver when the word bacteria is uttered but these microorganisms are everywhere. It’s true that while some of them are beneficial, others are harmful and, when growing in great numbers, may cause various health issues. That’s why examining them under a microscope is now a common procedure in the medical field.

Still, if you’re interested in learning more about these single-celled organisms as a spare time activity, getting the bacteria under your microscope, after you’ve taken the appropriate steps for a proper observation, might not tell or show you much if you don’t know a few basic things about the various types of bacteria.

You may not want to know everything in minute detail but being able to identify some of the most common bacteria will surely trigger some sort of contentment. Even if these organisms are very small, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Based on their shape, bacteria are divided into the following categories.

The most common ones are the Coccus bacteria, known as cocci, that have a spherical or even ovoid shape. This type of microorganisms is further divided into other subclasses including the Diplococcus, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus.

These bacteria occur in pairs (diplococci), as a long chain (streptococci), in clusters (staphylococci), or even in groups of four (tetrads) thus forming a square structure.

Examining microorganisms under the microscope will also enable you to see rod-like bacteria and when that happens you probably have a Bacillus in front of your eyes. Found in a variety of taxonomic groups of bacteria, bacilli may occur either as single cells, pairs, or chains.

A microscope session can also get you to see the so-called Vibrios, comma-shaped bacteria that got their name from their vibratory motility. They feature a flagellum on one end, which enables them to move around.

Unlike these bacteria, Spirilla have a flagellum on each of their two ends, a feature that helps them move faster in an aquatic environment. As their name suggests, these microorganisms have a spiral shape.

Of course, based on morphology, there are other types of bacteria. You will also find the Spirochetes that have a flexible spiral form with a type of motion that has been associated with a corkscrew motion, the Actinomycetes, which get their name from their resemblance with the sun rays, and the Mycoplasmas.

The latter type comes in different shapes because these microorganisms lack cell walls and thus change their morphology. They can occur as elongated or spherical bodies and even as interlacing filaments.

Types of bacteria based on how they stain

You may have heard of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and wondered about the meaning of this. Bacteria can be further divided into these two types based on how they stain. The gram-negative bacteria lose their primary stain during decolorization because their Peptidoglycan layer is thin.

However, when viewing them under the microscope, you will see that they will have a reddish color as a result of the stain used (safranin). This type of bacteria includes Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp, and Enterobacter spp.

The gram-positive bacteria are the opposite and thus retain the primary stain. That’s possible because of the thickness of their Peptidoglycan layer. These microorganisms appear bluish or purple under the microscope. Examples of gram-positive bacteria include Clostridium botulinum and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

How to get your bacteria ready for observation

Now, getting to that part where you actually observe and identify the above-mentioned microorganisms requires a few steps. The first phase is to grow the bacteria in culture media. There are various ways to do that. If, for example, you want to observe Staphylococcus, you can opt for the basal media.

In case you need to grow a specific type of bacteria yet prohibit others from doing so, it is recommended to use selective media such as the Lowenstein-Jensen media. Then you can also employ the enriched media that will help you grow a specific type of bacteria by adding a special component. If you want to grow Streptococci, adding blood will help you with that.

Your specific needs will help you choose the right media to get your bacteria ready for observation. Once you’ve taken care of this step and your bacteria sample is ready, you will have to get the following: distilled water, a Bunsen burner, an inoculating loop, a dropper, a marking pencil, and, of course, a compound microscope and a glass slide.

If you’re all set up, start your lab session by marking a circle on a clean slide in order to have a spot for the smear. This is where you should place the distilled water with the dropper. In case you use the loop, flame it with the Bunsen burner. If you have chosen broth for the media, it is no longer necessary to use distilled water. Also, ensure that the dropper is clean and you use just a drop of water.

Make sure the loop is being passed through the flame and cooled before you scoop the bacteria sample from the Petri dish or the tube you’ve used to grow the microorganisms. If you want to preserve the remaining of the sample and thus avoid contamination, flame the tips of the tube and cover it with the lid only after you’ve done that.

Once you’ve scooped the sample, mix it with the distilled water you’ve placed on the slide and let it air dry completely. To help the stain penetrate the cells better, pass the slide over the flame a few times to fix the smear.

To stain the bacteria sample, you will have to cover it with a gram stain for one minute. You can use safranin, methylene blue, or crystal violet. If there’s too much stain, remove the excess by gently running a bit of water along the slide. Use absorbent paper to remove excess stain or water.

Your sample should now be ready for observation. Make sure you start with low power, though. In case you want to use high power, you should add immersion oil. If you follow these steps, you should be able to observe these microorganisms properly.

There are various staining methods and stain types you can use. They vary since the observation purposes and the specimens used vary. Once you’ve chosen the stain and the method you want to employ, be sure you get all the necessary information to carry out this procedure properly and thus enjoy satisfying results.

A little mistake may affect what you see when you place the sample under the microscope. That’s why utmost attention is required throughout the entire process. Regardless of your observation purposes, the process itself can be a feast for those interested in diving into what cannot be seen without special instruments such as microscopes.

 

 

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If you have yet to find the time to research high-quality dissecting microscopes, be sure to take a look at our recent post. In this comprehensive article, we are going to talk to you about why microscopes are a vital part of the process of jewelry making.

So, if you want to learn more about this topic, keep reading as we are sure you’ll find plenty of info!

Why are microscopes an essential part of jewelry making?

As you probably know, making jewelry is a process that requires plenty of attention to details. According to jewelers, quality tools and equipment are crucial to have. Although they might seem expensive at first, having quality tools is important because they help one construct better pieces of jewelry.

Because microscopes feature magnification, they help craftsmen by reducing eye strain and fatigue. Plus, they provide users with a large, in-depth field of view. As a result, the jeweler can see both the bottom and the top of the piece at once. This way, he/she can use equipment such as pliers or solder irons easier.

Usually, jewelers use microscopes when they have to set stones, to grade diamonds or to appraise the value of different gemstones.

 

What features should one look for in a product of this kind?

First things first, the ergonomics of the device are vital. The model that you decide to purchase should provide you with an optimal working position so that you do not feel muscle or shoulder strain. As a result, you will not lose your concentration easily and you will feel like your work is more enjoyable.

To cater to the needs of all their customers, some manufacturers distribute microscopes that can be customized to fit one’s needs perfectly. This is a plus according to seasoned jewelers.

What is more, a microscope should also provide the owners with freedom of movement. For instance, a model that includes a flex arm stand is ideal for a jeweler because it supplies him/her with plenty of flexibility.

If a unit provides the user with a large working distance, he/she will have sufficient room to handle his/her tools with more ease. Also, a model that requires little refocusing is perfect for the job as it does not require you to focus it time and time again while working.

Lighting is also considered important. From this point of view, it is advisable that you select a product that includes ring lights that distribute the light homogeneously. For added convenience, you can also acquire an optional light diffuser that can help reduce reflection.

Magnification and gem clip

According to specialized jewel makers, the microscope that you buy should have a magnification ratio of at least 10x. Higher magnification units might also come in handy, especially if you like to analyze whether or not the stones that you are using have imperfections.  

When viewing stones or gems in general under the microscope, a stone holder is important to have. A stone holder is usually made of wire and it can be attached to the stage of the microscope.

A good holder can hold, for instance, a ring in place in the desired position so that you can zoom in on the desired section with ease.

Models that do not include a holder are not as convenient. However, if this is the case with the device that you like, you can use a clip on the bottom of the jewelry or you can simply hold without moving it while adjusting the focus.

As expected, doing so is a tad problematic because any slight movement can cause the item to get out of focus. Given this situation, the specialists say that those who do detailed work have to invest in a stone holder.

 

Darkfield vs. brightfield illumination

Another feature that is considered a must by jewel makers is a darkfield. This is true because viewing diamonds and other gemstones over a black background is not as blinding and distracting. The main role of a darkfield is to not allow brightness to bounce back at you.

By comparison, a model that only features brightfield illumination is only suitable when working with slides and flat objects in general. Thus, it is not as practical to use by a jeweler.

 

Camera

If you want to take detailed pictures of the pieces that you are making, selecting a microscope that has a built-in camera is the way to go. Still, before you jump to the chance of buying an item of this kind that features a camera, you should look at the quality of the pictures that it can take.

On top of that, remember that there are also products that allow users to actually record or to stream recordings live. This way, you will be able to share the jewelry-making process with your friends.

If you decide to get a model that includes a camera, it is best that you read the reviews left by fellow owners. When you do so, it is indicated that you look for a unit that has user-friendly software so that you will be able to utilize it without any difficulties.

 

Design

Those who are interested in getting a microscope that can be used when making jewelry should only look for products with two lens eyepieces. This feature makes the entire process more convenient as you will not be obliged to look at the piece that you are making with just one eye.

Consequently, you will end up being able to work longer hours and to focus better on the details that you want to perfect.

Invest in additional light sources

Most microscopes currently available usually come supplied with a single light source. However, as any jeweler will tell you, this is not enough. Therefore, you should go online and search for an extra light source that you can place on your work surface.

By doing so, you will have no problems when it comes to seeing pinpoints in the stones that you are working with as well as other similar minute details.

 

Price

If you are a novice that is not ready to make a significant investment in a top-notch microscope, it is best that, before you start exploring the market, you set up a budget and that you stick to it. Another thing that you should not ignore when shopping in this line of products is that these devices do not come cheap.

While a microscope for kids costs somewhere between 80 and 250 dollars, a model that was specially designed to be utilized by jewelers and engravers is much more expensive. So, before you decide to buy one, you should make sure that you are ready to pay a lot of money on it.

If you are an amateur jewelry maker, chances are that you won’t need a high-quality unit that comes provided with features that help one assess the true value of gems. Instead, you should look for a choice that has minimal features and that is easy to operate.

Once you get better and you feel like you need a better microscope, you can start analyzing the market again and try to find an upgrade.

 

 

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Finding microscopes for elementary students is not an easy task. In this article, we have decided to supply you with all the info that you need in order to find microscopes that can be used in schools. So, keep reading and see what you need to know before placing any orders!

Simple vs. compound models

Currently, the market is filled with two types of microscopes: simple and compound ones. A simple model has a single lens, while a compound one comes provided with both an eyepiece and an objective.

According to the specialists, you should always select compound microscopes for school use because the simple units are prone to show too much image aberration. As a result, the students will not be able to have a good view of the specimen that is being examined, and, thus, they are prone to lose their interest pretty quickly.

 

High vs. low power

Another decision that you have to make is between high-power and low-power models. Normally, schools often select high-power units when it comes to equipping their labs. These options are preferred because they have a generous magnification range.

However, the dissecting or stereo microscopes that fall into the low power category of microscopes should also be considered. They are very practical during lessons because they can increase the size of the specimen that is being analyzed. These models can be used when looking at plants or bugs during classes.

While low-power microscopes are suitable for elementary school, it is widely recommended that high school laboratories are provided with high-quality devices.

If you are teaching in a lab that is equipped with laptops or computers, digital microscopes should also be taken into consideration. These units are very practical because they allow the students who are using them to take photographs of the specimens being analyzed.

 

Durability

Because the product that you end up with will be used by many students throughout the years, it is vital that you select one that is made of high-quality materials. From this point of view, it is recommended that you get a microscope that features a metal case.

Plus, you should also check out the quality of the optics that the unit includes. Specialists argue that one should avoid purchasing a microscope that comes fitted with optics made of plastic, as they are prone to break easily.

Moreover, all the components made of plastic that a product of this kind features can be affected by heat and even destroyed.

 

Light systems

A key factor that enables a microscope user to take a good look at the specimen that he/she is analyzing is the presence of a light source. Not all kinds of microscopes include light sources. However, there are models that come fitted with not just one, but two light bulbs so that sufficient light is supplied at all times.

The kind of bulbs that are used for illumination also vary from one model to another. For instance, halogen bulbs are not very popular now because there have been numerous studies that have shown that they can affect the user’s health.

As an alternative, there are tungsten and fluorescent bulbs that you can try. Yet, they are rather expensive. Because of this, many argue that LED light sources are the best choice. What is more, the units that include LED lights are portable because the lighting system runs on batteries.

Weight and size

Because in a classroom you will most probably have to move the microscope around quite often, it is also recommended that you select a unit that is not particularly heavy. Also, it should have a design that makes it easy to be picked up and carried by a single person.

When it comes to size, it should be mentioned that an appropriate unit has to fit in the storage space that is available. It should also not feature parts that are movable or that can come off easily.

 

Safety and maintenance

If in the classroom where you are teaching there are consistent changes in temperature and humidity, it is also advisable that you acquire a unit that has been coated with a special substance that prevents bacteria from spreading. Moreover, keep in mind that there are products that have been tested for mold growth.

Maintenance-wise, the microscope that you select has to be easy to service. In other words, the unit should be easy to clean and maintain. On-site service is another feature that you should look for in a product of this type.

 

Usability and image quality

For a microscope to be suitable for classroom use, the unit should be simple to use. That is, it should only require minimal adjustments in order for the students to see something. This way, they will remain engaged and eager to hear what the teacher has to say.

With this in mind, it might also help to label all the parts of the unit so that the students know what parts to move when instructed to do so. The fewer removable parts a microscope has, the easier it is for the students to utilize it.

Optical performance is another important aspect that you should not ignore. A microscope that produces high-quality images that have a good resolution and good contrast is better than one that underperforms in this regard.

Accessories

Because manufacturers are trying to supply all interested buyers with suitable products, there are also plenty of accessories that you can get depending on the requirements of the subject that one teaches. For example, for a geology class, you can buy certain contrast filters or kits such as polarization.

 

Course level and budget

Another vital aspect that you should consider is the course level. If you need a microscope that can be used when teaching high schoolers, you do not have to select one that has the same capabilities as one that is meant to be used for advanced pathology courses.

To make the process of finding a microscope as easy as possible, some sellers have also prepared classifications of the products that they distribute, in accordance with the needs of the students.

The budget that you have available is also an important factor that should not be neglected. If you have a strict budget, it is best that you analyze the available models and that you select the one that suits the needs of the students best.

Although it might sound tempting for those that are short on money, settling for a second-hand unit should not be considered. This is not advisable because, if you do not have the experience needed to understand whether or not a microscope is functional, there is a high chance that you will end up with a model that does not perform as expected.

You should also not compromise and get a microscope that cannot supply users with high-quality images. If the product that you want to get is over your budgetary possibilities, it is better to wait and save some more money in order to get it.

What is more, before you make a decision, we recommend that you go online and that you read the reviews that a certain item has received from both specialists and current owners. This will help you select a microscope that can cater to your needs perfectly.

 

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In our recent article, we have learned how to choose the right microscope for kids that will help your little one learn more about the world that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Your child might have increased interest in science and biology and a good microscope could definitely help him/her satisfy all his/her curiosities.

Furthermore, your little one might want to learn more about certain external factors that can affect our health, and if so, in this article, you will find many interesting things about Bacillus anthracis. If we captured your attention, you should read more to gain all the necessary information that will offer you a better understanding of how dangerous this bacterium is.

Bacterial infection

Bacillus anthracis is the bacterium that causes anthrax and even if it is mostly known to cause a bacterial infection in livestock, there are situations when it can also affect humans. Also, its spores can contaminate the soil in many parts of the world. The name comes from the Greek word for coal, anthrax, because once infected the victim will experience black, coal-like, cutaneous eschars.

Besides being found in soil, spores also thrive in animal carcasses, feces, and animal products such as wool and hides. There are various animals such as cats, dogs, rats, and swine that are very resistant to anthrax. Another interesting aspect about this bacterium which makes it a bit different than many bacteria is that its spores can stay inactive in the soil for decades.

Anthrax spores can be compared to eggs as they can hatch under special conditions and they will germinate into active bacteria. That is why the spores are not very dangerous and they are not able to cause too much of a damage to tissue. But, as soon as they get into the body, they will start to transform into harmful disease-causing bacteria.

The bacterial infection has been discovered in 1850 by a German physician named Robert Koch and it is believed to be the first bacterium that was able to cause disease. The scientist managed to grow the anthrax bacteria in culture plates and then injected them into animals and he could prove that the animals got sick.

Later, the French scientist Louis Pasteur, who is mostly known for pasteurizing milk, had the idea to use damaged anthrax bacteria to develop a vaccine for anthrax. His experiment was a success and he was able to show that the vaccine can protect the animals from getting the disease.

How people are affected

It is easy to imagine that people will get infected with anthrax if the spores will manage to enter their bodies. As we have already mentioned, the spores will become active and this is when they become anthrax bacteria. Also, it is very important to know that the bacteria can multiply and can spread inside the body when they start producing toxins that can lead to severe illness.

If you were wondering how the spores manage to enter a human’s body, you should know that they can be inhaled when people breathe them in. When an individual breathes the spores, they will end up in the lungs and they will start germinating there and cause inhalation anthrax. It is believed that the most deadly form of infection is the pulmonary one.

When the spores are inhaled, the victim will start experiencing hemorrhagic pneumonia along with associated pleural effusion. Moreover, the organisms are able to travel inside the body and they will spread to the lymph nodes where they will produce hemorrhagic mediastinitis. The next symptoms are bacteremia, toxic shock, and in many cases, death.

Another type of anthrax is the gastrointestinal one that occurs when people drink water or eat food that is contaminated with spores. Also, if a person has a cut or a scrape on the skin, the spores will be able to enter those areas and will start germinating there and cause cutaneous anthrax.

Cutaneous penetration starts with a necrotic eschar that will extend to blood vessels very fast which will lead to bacteremia, sepsis, meningitis, and death. Also, it is considered the most common form of anthrax that accounts for over 90% of all human cases. Another type of anthrax that has been discovered recently is injection anthrax present among people injecting heroin.

 

Bioterrorism

A very interesting aspect of Bacillus anthracis is that its spores can be used in bioterrorism. Bioterrorism is a form of terrorism when certain bacteria, viruses, or other germs are used, in order to harm people. For that reason, most people also refer to it as germ warfare, as the name is more intuitive and easier to understand.

We are all familiar with the definition of terrorism released by the US government, which is the unlawful use of force and violence against other people and their property for intimidation or coercion in order to achieve certain social or political objectives or goals. When we say terrorism we don’t have a particular weapon in mind that is being used.

That is why the name will change into bioterrorism in order to make a clear distinction regarding the type of weapons that are being utilized. The reason why terrorists choose to use a biological agent to harm people is to scare them and to make them believe that the government is not strong enough to protect them.

Bacillus anthracis has gained plenty of attention because the terrorists can access its spores quite easily, and that is why it is considered the most likely agents to be used in a biological attack. Besides being able to produce anthrax spores in a lab, they can also be found in nature. The scariest part is that they are able to last for a very long time in the environment.

Even though Bacillus anthracis is susceptible to common antibiotics, in the recent decade many scientists started to worry over the potential existence of anthrax that is weaponized and resistant to antibiotics. That is why extensive planning has been prompted in order to avoid any potential terrorist attacks.

Anthrax vaccine

It is extremely important to know that there is a vaccine to prevent anthrax. However, the vaccine is not available for the general public and only certain US military personnel or laboratory workers have access to it.

Other individuals who may get the vaccine are those who work with animals or animal products or anyone who presents an increased risk of getting infected with the bacterium. Even if this vaccine works well, it cannot prevent all cases – if the people are vaccinated before the exposure to the bacteria, the study showed that the vaccine will manage to protect 9 out of 10.

Also, not anyone can get this vaccine as it depends on age and health conditions, and that is why it is always recommended to discuss with your healthcare professional and ask for more information. Moreover, individuals who had to take a dose of the anthrax vaccine in the past and have had severe allergic reactions will not be able to get another dose.

The same goes for those people who have certain allergies to any vaccine component – they don’t qualify for the vaccine. In the US there is only one type of anthrax vaccine, BioThrax which is only given to individuals that are 18 to 65 years old in combination with antibiotics.

 

 

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Whether you’re simply passionate about observing microorganisms or you do that for a living, you need to use the right equipment and employ the proper techniques to get the best out of those specimens you want to observe under the microscope.

If you’re on the lookout for a quality lab microscope for sale, rest assured that the market is generous enough when it comes to such instruments yet if you’re new to this and you need to learn more about getting your sample ready and, especially, about staining, this post might be of help.

Bacteria staining

In order to observe microorganisms under the microscope, they need to undergo some processes. Growing the bacteria you want to observe is the first step to take and there are several ways and media used to do that.

Depending on the type of bacteria you’re interested in and your observation purposes, you can use one of the following: basal, selective, transport, or enriched media. These techniques will help you grow specific bacteria and/or prohibit the growth of others.

Once you’ve done that and made sure you took this step properly, you will have to get your microorganisms ready for observation and here is where the staining part comes into sight. Its main purpose is to highlight cells and their parts. Just as it happens with the growth techniques, staining can be done using various types of stain.

Bacteria and water have almost the same refractive index and they cannot be seen with the naked eye when under the microscope because they are almost invisible or opaque. Staining thus makes the cells and their components visible. The various substances used for staining adhere to the cell and give it color.

Without staining the bacteria, the microscope will be of little use. Therefore, the specimen to be examined must be fixed and stained properly in order to be visible. By staining them, their morphological features are highlighted for observation.

Depending on the type of stain and the bacteria used, you can observe cell walls and components in a way that will help you visualize metabolic processes, the number of cells within specific biomass, and so on. Not to mention that stains will also help you see dead cells and live cells.

Stain types

As we’ve said before, the purpose of your examination will help you decide which type of stain to use. Since there are over 20 types of stains, it won’t be difficult to find one that will match your exact needs. You can thus find stains that will help you detect proteins and lipids or highlight spores. Of course, the purposes are various, hence the many stain types available.

However, not all stains can be used for living cells. The ones that can be used to observe living organisms, though, include toluene red, Bismarck brown, Nile red and Nile blue as well as fluorescent stains for DNA observation, just to name a few.

For example, Eosin Y is used by medical practitioners interested in conducting a PAP smear. When contacting cytoplasm, red blood cells, and cell membrane, this acid fluorescent stain becomes red. This stain type is also employed for testing blood marrow. What’s great about stains is that different types can be used for the same bacteria sample.

If you use eosin and hematoxylin, you will get a better contrast between the different parts of a cell. The eosin will make the cell turn red whereas the hematoxylin will stain the cell nuclei in blue. It will thus be easier for a medical practitioner to examine blood marrow samples and PAP smears when these two stain types are used together.

By opting for differential stains, that is, for two or more stains, the cells can be categorized into various types or groups. Even if both simple and differential stains allow for the observation of cell morphology, differential stains allow the observer to get more information about the cell wall.

A common type of stain used by hospital workers is Gram’s stain. This is employed to identify harmful microorganisms. The stain involves the use of different colorants that will trigger different effects on different types of microorganisms. There are three steps to take when using the Gram stain.

The first phase involves the use of Hucker’s crystal violet, a colorant that will make all the microorganisms in the sample turn violet. The second step requires the use of iodine to make the color adhere to all cells that are Gram-positive. These are primarily Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.

The stain will then be washed away and Safranin O will be added. This will enhance the contrast between the cells that are Gram-negative and the rest of the cells in the slide. Gram staining is of great importance in medicine as examining the bacteria using this staining method will help the observer know more about a bacterium’s susceptibility to certain antibiotics.

That’s why it is so commonly used. However, there are bacteria that cannot be stained using this standard laboratory procedure (Gram stain). Your observation purpose and the specimens to be examined will help you choose the right stain and method, though.

There are the so-called acid-fast bacteria that, because of the mycolic acid on their cell wall, are resistant to staining procedures. They are called acid-fast bacteria because of their resistance to decolorization with acid alcohol. For example, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a Gram-resistant microorganism and thus it should be stained with an acid-fast stain.

This bacterium can be colored with the Ziehl-Neelsen staining which includes the use of red colored Carbol fuchsin to stain the microorganism and Malachite Green or Methylene blue as a counterstain to ensure a contrasting background.

Thanks to the phenol in the Carbol fuchsin used, the cell walls are solubilized. Heat should be used to help the stain penetrate the bacterium better, make it visible, and thus allow for proper observation.

Staining procedures

Since there are different types of stains used for microscopy and different purposes for examining bacteria, the staining procedures employed can be different, too. The specimen that is being prepared for examination on the slide can be either dry-mounted or wet-mounted, smeared or sliced into a thin section.

If a stain is used, then the specimen should be wet-mounted. This procedure means that you should use a clean dropper to place a bit of water on the slide (just a drop), set your bacteria sample in the water, and then use a coverslip to cover it.

Use the dropper to apply the stain but place it at the corner of the slide in order for it to be drawn to the bacteria by capillary action. Use absorbent paper on the opposite side of the slide to remove excess water. Examine the specimen only when the stain has covered the entire slide.

Sometimes, when simple staining is required, the sample is immersed (before or after it has been fixed and mounted) in the dye solution, rinsed, and then observed. Of course, there are other staining procedures and techniques and your specific purposes and the specimens to be examined will help choose the appropriate one.

Regardless of the stain type and method employed, make sure you follow the required steps carefully. Not paying utmost attention can affect what you get to see when you place the sample under the microscope. A little mistake might render your sample useless.

However, when the sample is perfect for observation, the stain did its job and highlighted the cell and its parts, and you use a quality microscope, it is quite fascinating to see these tiny organisms and examine their morphology. One can almost never cease to be awed by these organisms and the forms life can take.

 

 

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If you’re a lot into exploring and your need to quench your curiosity has now taken you to the realm of microorganisms, getting a good microscope to help you with that might not be enough if you want to actually understand what you see when using such a device. You can check out various resources for more info on such instruments yet a bit of biology theory is also needed.

To help you identify the various types of bacteria and do so easily and properly, we have briefly described below some of the characteristics that set each type apart, so check out this post to learn more about bacteria morphology.

Types of bacteria based on morphology

There are many organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye yet, thanks to the latest technological achievements, we can easily discover a new world. Here is where microscopes come into sight.

Many of us tend to get a bit of a shiver when the word bacteria is uttered but these microorganisms are everywhere. It’s true that while some of them are beneficial, others are harmful and, when growing in great numbers, may cause various health issues. That’s why examining them under a microscope is now a common procedure in the medical field.

Still, if you’re interested in learning more about these single-celled organisms as a spare time activity, getting the bacteria under your microscope, after you’ve taken the appropriate steps for a proper observation, might not tell or show you much if you don’t know a few basic things about the various types of bacteria.

You may not want to know everything in minute detail but being able to identify some of the most common bacteria will surely trigger some sort of contentment. Even if these organisms are very small, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Based on their shape, bacteria are divided into the following categories.

The most common ones are the Coccus bacteria, known as cocci, that have a spherical or even ovoid shape. This type of microorganisms is further divided into other subclasses including the Diplococcus, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus.

These bacteria occur in pairs (diplococci), as a long chain (streptococci), in clusters (staphylococci), or even in groups of four (tetrads) thus forming a square structure.

Examining microorganisms under the microscope will also enable you to see rod-like bacteria and when that happens you probably have a Bacillus in front of your eyes. Found in a variety of taxonomic groups of bacteria, bacilli may occur either as single cells, pairs, or chains.

A microscope session can also get you to see the so-called Vibrios, comma-shaped bacteria that got their name from their vibratory motility. They feature a flagellum on one end, which enables them to move around.

Unlike these bacteria, Spirilla have a flagellum on each of their two ends, a feature that helps them move faster in an aquatic environment. As their name suggests, these microorganisms have a spiral shape.

Of course, based on morphology, there are other types of bacteria. You will also find the Spirochetes that have a flexible spiral form with a type of motion that has been associated with a corkscrew motion, the Actinomycetes, which get their name from their resemblance with the sun rays, and the Mycoplasmas.

The latter type comes in different shapes because these microorganisms lack cell walls and thus change their morphology. They can occur as elongated or spherical bodies and even as interlacing filaments.

Types of bacteria based on how they stain

You may have heard of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and wondered about the meaning of this. Bacteria can be further divided into these two types based on how they stain. The gram-negative bacteria lose their primary stain during decolorization because their Peptidoglycan layer is thin.

However, when viewing them under the microscope, you will see that they will have a reddish color as a result of the stain used (safranin). This type of bacteria includes Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp, and Enterobacter spp.

The gram-positive bacteria are the opposite and thus retain the primary stain. That’s possible because of the thickness of their Peptidoglycan layer. These microorganisms appear bluish or purple under the microscope. Examples of gram-positive bacteria include Clostridium botulinum and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

How to get your bacteria ready for observation

Now, getting to that part where you actually observe and identify the above-mentioned microorganisms requires a few steps. The first phase is to grow the bacteria in culture media. There are various ways to do that. If, for example, you want to observe Staphylococcus, you can opt for the basal media.

In case you need to grow a specific type of bacteria yet prohibit others from doing so, it is recommended to use selective media such as the Lowenstein-Jensen media. Then you can also employ the enriched media that will help you grow a specific type of bacteria by adding a special component. If you want to grow Streptococci, adding blood will help you with that.

Your specific needs will help you choose the right media to get your bacteria ready for observation. Once you’ve taken care of this step and your bacteria sample is ready, you will have to get the following: distilled water, a Bunsen burner, an inoculating loop, a dropper, a marking pencil, and, of course, a compound microscope and a glass slide.

If you’re all set up, start your lab session by marking a circle on a clean slide in order to have a spot for the smear. This is where you should place the distilled water with the dropper. In case you use the loop, flame it with the Bunsen burner. If you have chosen broth for the media, it is no longer necessary to use distilled water. Also, ensure that the dropper is clean and you use just a drop of water.

Make sure the loop is being passed through the flame and cooled before you scoop the bacteria sample from the Petri dish or the tube you’ve used to grow the microorganisms. If you want to preserve the remaining of the sample and thus avoid contamination, flame the tips of the tube and cover it with the lid only after you’ve done that.

Once you’ve scooped the sample, mix it with the distilled water you’ve placed on the slide and let it air dry completely. To help the stain penetrate the cells better, pass the slide over the flame a few times to fix the smear.

To stain the bacteria sample, you will have to cover it with a gram stain for one minute. You can use safranin, methylene blue, or crystal violet. If there’s too much stain, remove the excess by gently running a bit of water along the slide. Use absorbent paper to remove excess stain or water.

Your sample should now be ready for observation. Make sure you start with low power, though. In case you want to use high power, you should add immersion oil. If you follow these steps, you should be able to observe these microorganisms properly.

There are various staining methods and stain types you can use. They vary since the observation purposes and the specimens used vary. Once you’ve chosen the stain and the method you want to employ, be sure you get all the necessary information to carry out this procedure properly and thus enjoy satisfying results.

A little mistake may affect what you see when you place the sample under the microscope. That’s why utmost attention is required throughout the entire process. Regardless of your observation purposes, the process itself can be a feast for those interested in diving into what cannot be seen without special instruments such as microscopes.

 

 

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If you have yet to find the time to research high-quality dissecting microscopes, be sure to take a look at our recent post. In this comprehensive article, we are going to talk to you about why microscopes are a vital part of the process of jewelry making.

So, if you want to learn more about this topic, keep reading as we are sure you’ll find plenty of info!

Why are microscopes an essential part of jewelry making?

As you probably know, making jewelry is a process that requires plenty of attention to details. According to jewelers, quality tools and equipment are crucial to have. Although they might seem expensive at first, having quality tools is important because they help one construct better pieces of jewelry.

Because microscopes feature magnification, they help craftsmen by reducing eye strain and fatigue. Plus, they provide users with a large, in-depth field of view. As a result, the jeweler can see both the bottom and the top of the piece at once. This way, he/she can use equipment such as pliers or solder irons easier.

Usually, jewelers use microscopes when they have to set stones, to grade diamonds or to appraise the value of different gemstones.

 

What features should one look for in a product of this kind?

First things first, the ergonomics of the device are vital. The model that you decide to purchase should provide you with an optimal working position so that you do not feel muscle or shoulder strain. As a result, you will not lose your concentration easily and you will feel like your work is more enjoyable.

To cater to the needs of all their customers, some manufacturers distribute microscopes that can be customized to fit one’s needs perfectly. This is a plus according to seasoned jewelers.

What is more, a microscope should also provide the owners with freedom of movement. For instance, a model that includes a flex arm stand is ideal for a jeweler because it supplies him/her with plenty of flexibility.

If a unit provides the user with a large working distance, he/she will have sufficient room to handle his/her tools with more ease. Also, a model that requires little refocusing is perfect for the job as it does not require you to focus it time and time again while working.

Lighting is also considered important. From this point of view, it is advisable that you select a product that includes ring lights that distribute the light homogeneously. For added convenience, you can also acquire an optional light diffuser that can help reduce reflection.

Magnification and gem clip

According to specialized jewel makers, the microscope that you buy should have a magnification ratio of at least 10x. Higher magnification units might also come in handy, especially if you like to analyze whether or not the stones that you are using have imperfections.  

When viewing stones or gems in general under the microscope, a stone holder is important to have. A stone holder is usually made of wire and it can be attached to the stage of the microscope.

A good holder can hold, for instance, a ring in place in the desired position so that you can zoom in on the desired section with ease.

Models that do not include a holder are not as convenient. However, if this is the case with the device that you like, you can use a clip on the bottom of the jewelry or you can simply hold without moving it while adjusting the focus.

As expected, doing so is a tad problematic because any slight movement can cause the item to get out of focus. Given this situation, the specialists say that those who do detailed work have to invest in a stone holder.

 

Darkfield vs. brightfield illumination

Another feature that is considered a must by jewel makers is a darkfield. This is true because viewing diamonds and other gemstones over a black background is not as blinding and distracting. The main role of a darkfield is to not allow brightness to bounce back at you.

By comparison, a model that only features brightfield illumination is only suitable when working with slides and flat objects in general. Thus, it is not as practical to use by a jeweler.

 

Camera

If you want to take detailed pictures of the pieces that you are making, selecting a microscope that has a built-in camera is the way to go. Still, before you jump to the chance of buying an item of this kind that features a camera, you should look at the quality of the pictures that it can take.

On top of that, remember that there are also products that allow users to actually record or to stream recordings live. This way, you will be able to share the jewelry-making process with your friends.

If you decide to get a model that includes a camera, it is best that you read the reviews left by fellow owners. When you do so, it is indicated that you look for a unit that has user-friendly software so that you will be able to utilize it without any difficulties.

 

Design

Those who are interested in getting a microscope that can be used when making jewelry should only look for products with two lens eyepieces. This feature makes the entire process more convenient as you will not be obliged to look at the piece that you are making with just one eye.

Consequently, you will end up being able to work longer hours and to focus better on the details that you want to perfect.

Invest in additional light sources

Most microscopes currently available usually come supplied with a single light source. However, as any jeweler will tell you, this is not enough. Therefore, you should go online and search for an extra light source that you can place on your work surface.

By doing so, you will have no problems when it comes to seeing pinpoints in the stones that you are working with as well as other similar minute details.

 

Price

If you are a novice that is not ready to make a significant investment in a top-notch microscope, it is best that, before you start exploring the market, you set up a budget and that you stick to it. Another thing that you should not ignore when shopping in this line of products is that these devices do not come cheap.

While a microscope for kids costs somewhere between 80 and 250 dollars, a model that was specially designed to be utilized by jewelers and engravers is much more expensive. So, before you decide to buy one, you should make sure that you are ready to pay a lot of money on it.

If you are an amateur jewelry maker, chances are that you won’t need a high-quality unit that comes provided with features that help one assess the true value of gems. Instead, you should look for a choice that has minimal features and that is easy to operate.

Once you get better and you feel like you need a better microscope, you can start analyzing the market again and try to find an upgrade.

 

 

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Finding microscopes for elementary students is not an easy task. In this article, we have decided to supply you with all the info that you need in order to find microscopes that can be used in schools. So, keep reading and see what you need to know before placing any orders!

Simple vs. compound models

Currently, the market is filled with two types of microscopes: simple and compound ones. A simple model has a single lens, while a compound one comes provided with both an eyepiece and an objective.

According to the specialists, you should always select compound microscopes for school use because the simple units are prone to show too much image aberration. As a result, the students will not be able to have a good view of the specimen that is being examined, and, thus, they are prone to lose their interest pretty quickly.

 

High vs. low power

Another decision that you have to make is between high-power and low-power models. Normally, schools often select high-power units when it comes to equipping their labs. These options are preferred because they have a generous magnification range.

However, the dissecting or stereo microscopes that fall into the low power category of microscopes should also be considered. They are very practical during lessons because they can increase the size of the specimen that is being analyzed. These models can be used when looking at plants or bugs during classes.

While low-power microscopes are suitable for elementary school, it is widely recommended that high school laboratories are provided with high-quality devices.

If you are teaching in a lab that is equipped with laptops or computers, digital microscopes should also be taken into consideration. These units are very practical because they allow the students who are using them to take photographs of the specimens being analyzed.

 

Durability

Because the product that you end up with will be used by many students throughout the years, it is vital that you select one that is made of high-quality materials. From this point of view, it is recommended that you get a microscope that features a metal case.

Plus, you should also check out the quality of the optics that the unit includes. Specialists argue that one should avoid purchasing a microscope that comes fitted with optics made of plastic, as they are prone to break easily.

Moreover, all the components made of plastic that a product of this kind features can be affected by heat and even destroyed.

 

Light systems

A key factor that enables a microscope user to take a good look at the specimen that he/she is analyzing is the presence of a light source. Not all kinds of microscopes include light sources. However, there are models that come fitted with not just one, but two light bulbs so that sufficient light is supplied at all times.

The kind of bulbs that are used for illumination also vary from one model to another. For instance, halogen bulbs are not very popular now because there have been numerous studies that have shown that they can affect the user’s health.

As an alternative, there are tungsten and fluorescent bulbs that you can try. Yet, they are rather expensive. Because of this, many argue that LED light sources are the best choice. What is more, the units that include LED lights are portable because the lighting system runs on batteries.

Weight and size

Because in a classroom you will most probably have to move the microscope around quite often, it is also recommended that you select a unit that is not particularly heavy. Also, it should have a design that makes it easy to be picked up and carried by a single person.

When it comes to size, it should be mentioned that an appropriate unit has to fit in the storage space that is available. It should also not feature parts that are movable or that can come off easily.

 

Safety and maintenance

If in the classroom where you are teaching there are consistent changes in temperature and humidity, it is also advisable that you acquire a unit that has been coated with a special substance that prevents bacteria from spreading. Moreover, keep in mind that there are products that have been tested for mold growth.

Maintenance-wise, the microscope that you select has to be easy to service. In other words, the unit should be easy to clean and maintain. On-site service is another feature that you should look for in a product of this type.

 

Usability and image quality

For a microscope to be suitable for classroom use, the unit should be simple to use. That is, it should only require minimal adjustments in order for the students to see something. This way, they will remain engaged and eager to hear what the teacher has to say.

With this in mind, it might also help to label all the parts of the unit so that the students know what parts to move when instructed to do so. The fewer removable parts a microscope has, the easier it is for the students to utilize it.

Optical performance is another important aspect that you should not ignore. A microscope that produces high-quality images that have a good resolution and good contrast is better than one that underperforms in this regard.

Accessories

Because manufacturers are trying to supply all interested buyers with suitable products, there are also plenty of accessories that you can get depending on the requirements of the subject that one teaches. For example, for a geology class, you can buy certain contrast filters or kits such as polarization.

 

Course level and budget

Another vital aspect that you should consider is the course level. If you need a microscope that can be used when teaching high schoolers, you do not have to select one that has the same capabilities as one that is meant to be used for advanced pathology courses.

To make the process of finding a microscope as easy as possible, some sellers have also prepared classifications of the products that they distribute, in accordance with the needs of the students.

The budget that you have available is also an important factor that should not be neglected. If you have a strict budget, it is best that you analyze the available models and that you select the one that suits the needs of the students best.

Although it might sound tempting for those that are short on money, settling for a second-hand unit should not be considered. This is not advisable because, if you do not have the experience needed to understand whether or not a microscope is functional, there is a high chance that you will end up with a model that does not perform as expected.

You should also not compromise and get a microscope that cannot supply users with high-quality images. If the product that you want to get is over your budgetary possibilities, it is better to wait and save some more money in order to get it.

What is more, before you make a decision, we recommend that you go online and that you read the reviews that a certain item has received from both specialists and current owners. This will help you select a microscope that can cater to your needs perfectly.

 

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In our recent article, we have learned how to choose the right microscope for kids that will help your little one learn more about the world that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Your child might have increased interest in science and biology and a good microscope could definitely help him/her satisfy all his/her curiosities.

Furthermore, your little one might want to learn more about certain external factors that can affect our health, and if so, in this article, you will find many interesting things about Bacillus anthracis. If we captured your attention, you should read more to gain all the necessary information that will offer you a better understanding of how dangerous this bacterium is.

Bacterial infection

Bacillus anthracis is the bacterium that causes anthrax and even if it is mostly known to cause a bacterial infection in livestock, there are situations when it can also affect humans. Also, its spores can contaminate the soil in many parts of the world. The name comes from the Greek word for coal, anthrax, because once infected the victim will experience black, coal-like, cutaneous eschars.

Besides being found in soil, spores also thrive in animal carcasses, feces, and animal products such as wool and hides. There are various animals such as cats, dogs, rats, and swine that are very resistant to anthrax. Another interesting aspect about this bacterium which makes it a bit different than many bacteria is that its spores can stay inactive in the soil for decades.

Anthrax spores can be compared to eggs as they can hatch under special conditions and they will germinate into active bacteria. That is why the spores are not very dangerous and they are not able to cause too much of a damage to tissue. But, as soon as they get into the body, they will start to transform into harmful disease-causing bacteria.

The bacterial infection has been discovered in 1850 by a German physician named Robert Koch and it is believed to be the first bacterium that was able to cause disease. The scientist managed to grow the anthrax bacteria in culture plates and then injected them into animals and he could prove that the animals got sick.

Later, the French scientist Louis Pasteur, who is mostly known for pasteurizing milk, had the idea to use damaged anthrax bacteria to develop a vaccine for anthrax. His experiment was a success and he was able to show that the vaccine can protect the animals from getting the disease.

How people are affected

It is easy to imagine that people will get infected with anthrax if the spores will manage to enter their bodies. As we have already mentioned, the spores will become active and this is when they become anthrax bacteria. Also, it is very important to know that the bacteria can multiply and can spread inside the body when they start producing toxins that can lead to severe illness.

If you were wondering how the spores manage to enter a human’s body, you should know that they can be inhaled when people breathe them in. When an individual breathes the spores, they will end up in the lungs and they will start germinating there and cause inhalation anthrax. It is believed that the most deadly form of infection is the pulmonary one.

When the spores are inhaled, the victim will start experiencing hemorrhagic pneumonia along with associated pleural effusion. Moreover, the organisms are able to travel inside the body and they will spread to the lymph nodes where they will produce hemorrhagic mediastinitis. The next symptoms are bacteremia, toxic shock, and in many cases, death.

Another type of anthrax is the gastrointestinal one that occurs when people drink water or eat food that is contaminated with spores. Also, if a person has a cut or a scrape on the skin, the spores will be able to enter those areas and will start germinating there and cause cutaneous anthrax.

Cutaneous penetration starts with a necrotic eschar that will extend to blood vessels very fast which will lead to bacteremia, sepsis, meningitis, and death. Also, it is considered the most common form of anthrax that accounts for over 90% of all human cases. Another type of anthrax that has been discovered recently is injection anthrax present among people injecting heroin.

 

Bioterrorism

A very interesting aspect of Bacillus anthracis is that its spores can be used in bioterrorism. Bioterrorism is a form of terrorism when certain bacteria, viruses, or other germs are used, in order to harm people. For that reason, most people also refer to it as germ warfare, as the name is more intuitive and easier to understand.

We are all familiar with the definition of terrorism released by the US government, which is the unlawful use of force and violence against other people and their property for intimidation or coercion in order to achieve certain social or political objectives or goals. When we say terrorism we don’t have a particular weapon in mind that is being used.

That is why the name will change into bioterrorism in order to make a clear distinction regarding the type of weapons that are being utilized. The reason why terrorists choose to use a biological agent to harm people is to scare them and to make them believe that the government is not strong enough to protect them.

Bacillus anthracis has gained plenty of attention because the terrorists can access its spores quite easily, and that is why it is considered the most likely agents to be used in a biological attack. Besides being able to produce anthrax spores in a lab, they can also be found in nature. The scariest part is that they are able to last for a very long time in the environment.

Even though Bacillus anthracis is susceptible to common antibiotics, in the recent decade many scientists started to worry over the potential existence of anthrax that is weaponized and resistant to antibiotics. That is why extensive planning has been prompted in order to avoid any potential terrorist attacks.

Anthrax vaccine

It is extremely important to know that there is a vaccine to prevent anthrax. However, the vaccine is not available for the general public and only certain US military personnel or laboratory workers have access to it.

Other individuals who may get the vaccine are those who work with animals or animal products or anyone who presents an increased risk of getting infected with the bacterium. Even if this vaccine works well, it cannot prevent all cases – if the people are vaccinated before the exposure to the bacteria, the study showed that the vaccine will manage to protect 9 out of 10.

Also, not anyone can get this vaccine as it depends on age and health conditions, and that is why it is always recommended to discuss with your healthcare professional and ask for more information. Moreover, individuals who had to take a dose of the anthrax vaccine in the past and have had severe allergic reactions will not be able to get another dose.

The same goes for those people who have certain allergies to any vaccine component – they don’t qualify for the vaccine. In the US there is only one type of anthrax vaccine, BioThrax which is only given to individuals that are 18 to 65 years old in combination with antibiotics.

 

 

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