Using the Gram Stain to Help Diagnose Meningitis

Time to complete course: 31 min.

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About Using the Gram Stain to Help Diagnose Meningitis Virtual Lab Simulation

This short, targeted simulation is adapted from the full-length “The Gram Stain: Identify and differentiate bacteria” simulation.

Did you know that there are approximately 5 million-trillion-trillion bacteria in the world? Most of them are harmless, but some can induce disease in an affected host. In this simulation, you will help doctors identify bacteria in a cerebrospinal fluid sample from a patient suspected of suffering from bacterial meningitis.

Visit the patient in the hospital

First, you will visit an ill patient in the hospital, where you will get the chance to talk to the doctor about meningitis and the structures of the central nervous system. You will get the chance to meet a famous bacteriologist from the past, Hans Christian Gram. He will walk you through the four reagents of the Gram stain that interact with structural components of the cell wall to color the bacteria.

Perform the Gram stain

When the patient’s fluid sample arrives at the laboratory, equip yourself with protective gear to prepare a bacterial smear and heat fix it to a glass slide. You are now ready to perform the Gram stain in a safe virtual environment. Made a mistake? No worries, hit the big red button on the workbench to repeat the staining procedure until it becomes second nature.       

Interpret your findings using a microscope 

In the end, you will use a light microscope to interpret the results of your Gram stain. View the microscopic image on the computer screen, and apply immersion oil to increase magnification 1000x! Will you be able to identify the presence of any bacteria in the patient´s cerebrospinal fluid?

Get Started Now

Join doctors in revealing a pathogen that is causing a patient to be critically ill. Perform the Gram stain on a sample collected from the patient and use microscopy to identify the presence of bacteria to help guide the proper antibiotic treatment.

Techniques in Lab

  • Preparation of bacterial smears
  • The Gram stain technique
  • Light microscopy

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the structure of the Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria
  • Appreciate theoretical and technical aspects of the Gram staining procedure
  • Know the most commonly made mistakes in Gram staining
  • Critically interpret the results of a Gram staining experiment using a light microscope

Simulation Features

Length – 31 minutes
Accessibility mode – Available
Languages – English, French, German, Spanish, Italian

Examples of Related Standards


Microbiology related 1st year




Biology 1.3: Membrane Structure
Biology 6.3: Defence from infectious disease


Biology Unit 2: Cell structure and function

Screenshots of Using the Gram Stain to Help Diagnose Meningitis Virtual Lab Simulation


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