David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species



When a human body is invaded by disease the intruding organisms are attacked in the bloodstream by the white corpuscles. Human society as a whole also has its white corpuscles and they are called nurses.

These small white fussy creatures live in huge structures called hospitals where all day long they move briskly up and down long linoleum tunnels. Their outer covering is a stiff white shell made almost entirely of starch. This is to protect them from attack by the various noxious organisms that enter a hospital which are called "patients."

Like bees the nurse visits each patient in turn, and performs a series of functions, such as bringing food and taking away flowers. They show a particular interest in the patient's droppings which they carry away in small pans. No one has ever discovered exactly what they do with it all, but in exchange they bring small white pellets which they feed to the patient, usually in the middle of the night.

Nurses are not to be treated lightly as they are armed with a sting which they will plunge into the rear of the patient without warning. Some, like mosquitos, have been known to extract blood. Oddly enough this behaviour seems to be beneficial to the other species. For no matter how sick they are, after a few days of having things inserted into every oroifice of their body, they become anxious to leave the hospital as quickly as possible.

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