Stuffed animals, they're not just for, well, animals anymore. In 2002, Drew Oliver founded Giantmicrobes, Inc and created a batch of cuddly toys that represented common germs like the flu. The unusual plush creatures were a hit and Oliver has since expanded his line to 60 toys that include mad cow disease, Black Death, Ebola, salmonella, sleeping sickness, and the red blood cell. The toys are based on microscope images of real microbes but are designed with a fun flare. Part gag gift (think of giving your boss an ulcer), part educational toy, these fun dolls come with fact-filled tags that explain how the microbes really look and function.
Physicians might find these soft, touchable germs useful when explaining illnesses to children or when discussing difficult diseases like HIV with patients. The toys retail for $7.95 and are available at toy stores, museum shops, and online at Giantmicrobes.com.