Chlamydia Herpes HPV Venereals GIANTMicrobes
February 15, 2012 by staff
Chlamydia Herpes HPV Venereals GIANTMicrobes, GIANTmicrobes is a toy company based in Stamford, Connecticut. GIANTmicrobes manufactures plush toys resembling microbes, including a number of clinically important human pathogens. The toys, also referred to as GIANTmicrobes, are available via Internet and are also typically found at medical facilities, Toy stores, pharmacies and other health-related locations.
Many are on display at MoMA. The toys were developed primarily for educational, if not in some cases ironic, value. They are found around the world and the tagging explaining the illness, pathogen or organism has been translated into over 8 languages for use in public awareness in North America and Europe.
The appearance of each 5-7 inch long toy is based on electron micrographs of the real microbe, thus the toys represent an approximate million-fold magnification of the actual organisms in many cases. In order to appeal to the general public and present an air of lovability, some license is taken in the design of the toys in that they are brightly colored and furry. To further anthropomorphize them, they typically feature two eyes and in some cases other facial features that are in line with some aspect of the disease they represent. Serious pathogens and bacteria, such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Human Papillovirus, feature a ribbon, often corresponding to the actual microbe.
Despite this license, the toys typically maintain the salient features of their biological cousins, such as the presence of surface glycoproteins, cilia, flagella, and overall morphology. To emphasize the basic faithfulness to the actual microbes, the toys possess a tag showing the micrograph upon which their appearance is based, the scientific nomenclature of the microbe, and some general clinical facts related to the disease it causes.
Recently, the toys have become available in miniature size (“minimicrobes”), 3 microbe toys packaged in a petri dish-style box, while 15-20″ sizes, called “GIGANTICmicrobes!”, have been released.
There are currently a number of microbes which have been represented in plush form. These are grouped by the manufacturer into several categories, which are in cases somewhat arbitrary and do not always reflect the clinical features of the diseases caused by the organisms; indeed, some microbes such as the T4 bacteriophage and Martian Life do not represent causative agents of disease in humans at all. As of 2007, microbes are grouped into Health, Maladies, Calamities, Critters, Alimentaries, Exotics, Venereals, Aerials, Ambulatories, Menageries, Aquatics, Corporeals, and Tropicals. Furthermore, the company maintains a smaller grouping of toys listed as ‘Professional,’ which according to the company website are geared toward health professionals but which are of similar characteristics to the other lines.
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