Posts Tagged 'Giardia lamblia'

Proposing a State Microbe

by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation

Last week I heard an interesting piece on NPR’s All Things Considered: Wisconsin may soon have a state microbe. A bill to designate Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium used in making cheese, as the state microbe has passed the Wisconsin Assembly and is now going to be voted by the state senate. If the bill passes, Wisconsin will be the first state to have an official microbe.

Well, why let Wisconsin have all the fun? Colorado already has a State Rock (Yule Marble), a State Dance (Square Dance), a State Reptile (Western Painted Turtle) and a State Tartan (see it here), so why not a State Microbe?

“What microbe?,” you might ask. Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought – and I know my suggestion is going to be controversial – but at this moment I would like to formally suggest that Colorado’s state microbe be … drumroll, please … Giardia lamblia.

Giardia lamblia

Giardia is a flagellated freshwater protozoan parasite found in almost every Colorado mountain stream that commonly infects humans, dogs, cats, birds, sheep and deer and other mammals. Infection with Giardia is often colloquially called “Beaver Fever,” and as many people can attest to, not very pretty.

I know what you’re all thinking. L. lactis makes sense for Wisconsin — the bacteria helps make cheese, and Wisconsin is known as the “Cheese State.” Do we really want to be known as the What-Giardia-Does-To-You-State (this is a family-friendly blog, so if you don’t already know what Giardia does, you can learn about it here)? Perhaps not, but I can’t think of a microbe more ubiquitously associated with Colorado. The first documented waterborn outbreak of Giardia was in Aspen, Colorado in 1965, and Colorado has had more outbreaks than any other state. It may not be the prettiest microbe, but it’s worked its way into our history, our hearts, and our intestines.

Of course, that’s just my vote for Colorado’s State Microbe. If you had the chance to choose, what microbe would make it to the top of your list to represent Colorado?


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