The smell of various animals drifted through the air as we entered the Veterinary hospital for a tour. Passing by and looking into several labs like the one pictured below, the tour guide explaining what each lab was used to analyze. It was starting off like any other college tour… –until we walked past the surgical rooms.
A student standing by the door as we were looking in and asked if we would like to watch from closer. A few seconds later he returned with hairnets, booties, and surgical masks, and ushered us into the room.
After watching the completion of the first surgery and the beginning of a second, the smell of the chemicals used for sterilization was just beginning to come through my face mask when it was time to continue the tour.
Walking through the hall, I could smell the formaldehyde coming from the Anatomy lab as we entered the door. We were allowed to look in various boxes labeled “Animais Selvagens” (wild animals). The boxes contained all kinds of animals from feral cats to snakes and lizards. A variety of bones could also be found in various areas around the lab.
Migrating down the hallway, the smell of horse hit my nose as we approached the x-ray room. The doctors had just finished taking x-rays of a horse’s foot and had moved him back to the stables while they analyzed the x-ray. They showed us the horse and a few others that were at the hospital for multiple reasons. After touring the veterinary hospital, we headed to the pharmaceutical lab.
Walking down the hallway of the pharmaceutical lab, the smell of laboratory grade cleaner reminded me of home, and by home, I mean the chemistry lab, of course! All of the instruments they had were fascinating. They had everything from the HPLC for chemical analysis to the instruments they use to make pills and capsules. Sadly, none of the instruments were being used at that moment because most the students here study at night.
The Bio-Chemical analysis lab was everything you would expect from the moment you stepped in. As we passed the first lab for microbiology, you could smell the bacteria. The biologists were excited to show us everything. They showed us slides of feces with parasites, blood infected with staphylococcus, and much more. My favorite portion of the tour was when one of the biologists performed an IMViC test with Salmonella and showed us the results for E. coli.
Every lab will have a distinct smell, especially if it’s a veterinary hospital or a biology lab! I’m glad I was able to experience the smells of Brazilian laboratories, for the times they reminded me of home and the times they did not.