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Sarah's Sickness

The Diagnosis and Treatment of an Infectious Disease


Catherine Dana Santanello
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Scott J. Bergman
Pharmacy Practice and Science
University of Nebraska Medical Center -College of Pharmacy


This story is based on the true account of a student who suffered years of misdiagnoses of her illness while she was in a professional school. As the case evolves, students follow the course of Sarah's illness. Part I of the case details the signs of her initial illness, with students being asked to identify a potential list of disorders that could be plaguing her. Part II describes the results of her physical exam and initial laboratory tests. It also introduces medication therapy management options and monitoring for side effects of drugs. Part III reveals the complication of a co-infection and ties concepts of immunology with the pathophysiology of her condition. This case works well as an interrupted case that can be assigned to individual students or it can be used with student teams. It was written for a School of Pharmacy microbiology and immunology course, but could be used in a medical or nursing microbiology course, an infectious diseases course, or a medication therapy management course.


  • Assess the potentially complicated issues that emerge when diagnosing and treating disease states that could be caused by numerous etiological agents.
  • Review (or discover) the life cycle of two common pathogens.
  • Describe the basic symptoms caused by various etiological agents and the body's immune system response to specific pathogens.
  • Compare and contrast therapeutic options and understand the potential side effects of the drugs.


Aspergillosis; aspergillus fumigatus; allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis; ABPA; allergens; fungal spores; fungus; giardiasis; infectious disease; voriconazole; itraconazole; exogenous antigen processing; entero-test; innate and adaptive immunity

Topical Areas

Scientific argumentation

Educational Level

Graduate, Professional (degree program), Clinical education



Type / Methods

Debate, Dilemma/Decision, Discussion, Interrupted



Subject Headings

Microbiology  |   Pharmacy / Pharmacology  |   Epidemiology  |   Medicine (General)  |  

Date Posted


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