The timely detection and/or laboratory diagnosis of infectious diseases is critical to the prevention of death due to most infectious diseases in most parts of the world especially in developing economies such as in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia and South America. It is vital to accurately detect invading disease causing agents in the face of any infection, and this should be timely done so that therapy can be properly guided. This chapter updates the reader on the various techniques used to analyze clinical specimens as is obtainable in the microbiology laboratory. Microbiology unlike other biological sciences is a fascinating and rewarding discipline that revolves around life at the minute state (i.e. microorganisms). There is actually no microbiology without laboratory modus operandi. Microbiology like all the other biological disciplines is founded on different laboratory and/or experimental procedures that clarify the working nature of microorganisms, their synthesized products and their activity in the environment.
The microbiology laboratory deals mainly with the isolation, identification and/or characterization of microorganisms among other procedures from virtually all materials emanating from humans or the environment in a view to harnessing their beneficial importance as well as coming up with ways of halting their untoward effects to man and his immediate environment. There are numerous hazards that can be encountered in the microbiology laboratory if students and teachers alike including scientists fail to work according to laid down laboratory guidelines when carrying out their research works. As explained earlier in this textbook, students and all users of the microbiology laboratory are advised to adhere strictly to all the rules and regulations of the laboratory as well as ensure that aseptic technique is imbibed always to ensure better results from their laboratory investigations and ultimately to avoid been infected with the infectious organisms. Microorganisms are ubiquitous (i.e. they are everywhere); and this includes both the beneficial and harmful microbes. Thus, it is critical for all users of the microbiology laboratory to follow the laboratory precautions that are customary to their own laboratory so as to work safely and protect the lives of others and even their immediate working environment.
In the ensuing pages of this section, the fresher students in microbiology including those who already have mastery of the subject shall be taken on an expedition of exploring some of the basic laboratory protocols that makes up the microbiology laboratory. This chapter covers bacteriological investigations, investigations in parasitology, serology and mycology; and the analysis of a wide variety of clinical specimens including but not limited to sputum, blood, feaces and urine shall be expanded. The following foundational laboratory techniques in bacteriology, mycology, serology, and parasitology shall sustain microbiology students in their quest for higher knowledge in the microbial world of life. Students learn more when they are involved in a particular process rather being told or shown how to do things.
This section has been designed to involve students in virtually all the foundational laboratory techniques that are exclusive to the microbiology laboratory. It is expected that all students of microbiology shall demonstrate optimum mastery of microbiology after going through the following pages in a thoughtful and reflective manner. Readers are advised to know that the reliability and reproducibility of a test result can be affected by some factors which could eventually lead to some errors in the reliability of the final test result. Some of these factors which could be controlled include the type of instruments/equipments used, laboratory personnel’s’ experience, testing reagents and methods, environmental factors and the quality of samples collected for the analysis. However, this chapter has been prepared to give a concise description of some of the laboratory techniques attempted in the microbiology laboratory.