Abscesses and the Joys of Draining

I’ve determined that, should you want to be in a medical profession, as I do, you have to kind of be a little sick in the head. Case in point: draining abscesses is disgustingly awesome and rewarding. (I held back on including a picture of an abscess since they’re pretty awful).

An abscess is “a collection of pus in any part of the body that, in most cases, causes swelling and inflammation around it” (#1). Pus is composed mainly of neutrophils that have been destroyed by macrophages.

I have helped with restraint of two abscess drainings. The first was a cat with an abscess about the size of a grapefruit. Originally, the plan was to drain with syringes, but the flow was good enough just to palpate the abscess and create a super disgusting towel.

This past monday, I helped restrain the sweetest bunny ever who had been in before to have its abscess drained. Fun fact: rabbits lack an enzyme that allows them to form pus the same consistency of dogs and cats (liquid). Therefore, their pus is more like toothpaste and is evacuated from an abscess as such. I was told by our exotics doctor that due to this type of formation, rabbit abscesses often have to be surgically removed. In order to avoid this, she did several gentle flushes with saline. Manipulating the abscess helps to break up the thick pus and remove it.

If you’re brave, sick in the head, or need to induce vomiting, check this out (cue epic music):

Hopefully one day, I will be on the more rewarding end of abscess draining and will get to palpate one myself. Grossly exciting.


Hospital Updates:

  • Smudge and Symba’s other sister Tara has been adopted and is set to go to her new home today! We’ll miss her but we’re all super happy she has a family!



  1. NIH – Abscess



The Stages of Toxoplasma gondii

T. gondii constructing daughter scaffolds with...

Image via Wikipedia

As stated in Toxoplasma gondii, today I’m going to break down the stages of the parasite. Those stages are:

  • Sporulated oocysts (sporozoites) from environment
  • Tissue cysts containing bradyzoites in raw/undercooked meat
  • Tachyzoites in tissues
  • Entero-epithelial stages (only in cats)

Oocysts are produced non-sporulated but will sporulate in about 2 days. They are about 10×10 µm and millions can be produced within days. Cats can develop strong immunity to this stage.

In the intermediate host, the life cycle is as follows:

  • Excystation of sporozoites
  • Sporozoites –> Tachyzoites
  • Tachyzoites disseminate infection and eventually become bradyzoites or tissue cysts
  • Latent infection
  • Endodyogeny (a form of sexual reproduction)

Tachyzoites have a fondness for neural and cardiac tissue but can infect any nucleated cell in the body. This is the stage that crosses into the placenta and causes congenital infections. Rapid division of tachyzoites is what causes tissue destruction, the spread of infection and lesions.

Bradyzoites (“brady” = slow) are responsible for tissue cysts. They can be present in any organ and survive for the life of the infected animal since they are resistant to the drugs used to treat Toxoplasmosis. If the host is immunocompromised, infection can be reactivated and intermediate hosts can infect one another. Bradyzoites are at fault for initiating meat induced infection, on top of being the only stage to give rise to entero-epithelial stages.

Once again, the etero-epithelial stages are only found in cats. There are 5 types of entero-epithelial schizonts (which will not be listed). This is where the sexual stages/oocysts are produced.

Overall, Toxoplasma gondii was the most successful parasite discussed in my Intro Parasitology course.

:: Information from this post is from my notes from an Introductory Parasitology class taught by Dr. Zajac at Virginia Tech ::