Saturday, April 19, 2014

Loading viruses

Occasionally some of our terminology in the health care sector has its own set of nuances. We combine words or word parts to give them more precise and clear meaning, and often make them a unique definition. Take for example, words like symptomology; chemotherapy; biotechnology; whether it's ever popular term genetic manipulation. Take for example some well used medical terms that become mainstream — as the term for a gazillion little of RNA components, all of which we throw and call "viral". Viral loads in laboratory conditions referred to above indicate, diagnostic criteria for the remission or the progress of disease, as is the case in Hepatitis or HIV/AIDS. But it now means a serious problem with your computer, or the latest cat-video gone rampant on the internet. In my case, it recently indicated a personalized upper respiratory infection from Central Asia!

Travel has its ups and downs, and at the end of two weeks of wonderful training and interaction with our colleagues in Kyrgyzstan, I succumbed to a "load of virus" — and the drudgery of dealing with it while tight in the aisle seat of airplanes, passing time wandering during layovers in foreign terminals, hopping in lines and customs passport checks. With almost 36 hours of travel for me, I plowed through it all in the fog of decongestants and analgesics and tried desperately not to sneezes or coughs — which only made it worse. I'm certainly not the first, nor the last person on the planet to catch a cold, but I was certainly among the most miserable!

Now that the worst is behind me and my diagnosis only a "horse" and not a "zebra", I'd be interested in your opinion ... is a cold considered as "a catch" viral load or simply just "load a virus"? Just maybe we have a new and even more descriptive term for uploading seasonal cold and flu! Let me know what you think on and who knows, maybe our new twisted term actually "go viral."

-Beverly Sumwalt, MA, MT (ASCP) DLM, CLS, ASCP is a Global Outreach volunteer Consultant.

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