Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flu and bacteria: Better prognosis for this potentially fatal combination

Date:
April 26, 2013
Source:
University of Vienna
Summary:
Scientists have provided insights into how much harm bacteria can cause to the lung of people having the flu. The results could prompt the development of alternative treatments for flu-related bacterial infections, to improve patient outcome and prevent permanent lung damage.

Lung cells infected with influenza virus (stained green) and Legionella (stained red). The nucleus of the cell is stained blue.
Credit: Copyright: A. Jamieson

Scientists from the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna have provided insights into how much harm bacteria can cause to the lung of people having the flu. An infection with both the flu and bacteria can be a fatal combination. The results could prompt the development of alternative treatments for flu-related bacterial infections, to improve patient outcome and prevent permanent lung damage.

A potentially fatal combination: the flu and bacteria

The flu is caused by an infection with the influenza virus, which mainly attacks the upper respiratory tract -- the nose, throat and bronchi and rarely also the lungs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around five to 15 percent of the population are affected by upper respiratory tract infections during seasonal flu outbreaks, and between 250 000-500 000 people die of the illness every year. However, a main cause of death in people having the flu is actually a secondary infection with bacteria.

Influenza increases susceptibility to bacterial infection

When we are sick with influenza virus, for many reasons our susceptibility to bacterial infection is increased. One type of bacteria that the immune system usually prevents from spreading and becoming harmful for us is called Legionella pneumophila. However in some circumstances, such as when we're infected with influenza virus, Legionella can cause pneumonia, an inflammatory disease of the lung that if left untreated can leave the lung permanently damaged and even cause death. Amanda Jamieson, the lead author of the report and a research fellow in the Department of Microbiology, Immunobiology and Genetics of the University of Vienna, started to study this phenomenon while working in the laboratory of Ruslan Medzhitov, an immunologist at Yale University School of Medicine, USA, and has continued the project in Vienna in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Decker at the MFPL of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. "In our model system an infection with influenza and Legionella was fatal. We expected that this would be caused by the bacteria growing and spreading like crazy, but what we actually found was that the number of bacteria didn't change, which was a big surprise," says Amanda Jamieson.

Enhancing tissue repair pathways aids treatment of flu-related bacterial infections

Amanda Jamieson and her collaborators could show now that the damage to the lung tissue caused by a co-infection with flu and Legionella is not properly repaired, as the influenza virus suppresses the body's ability to repair tissue damage. In case of an additional Legionella infection this may lead to fatal pneumonia. However, treatment with drugs that activate tissue repair pathways significantly improved the outcome. This suggests that new treatment options to deal with co-infections of flu and bacteria should be explored. Amanda Jamieson, who will take up an Assistant Professorship at Brown University, USA, in two months, says: "My group will continue to work on tissue repair models and explore different avenues for the treatment of flu/bacterial co-infections.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. M. Jamieson, L. Pasman, S. Yu, P. Gamradt, R. J. Homer, T. Decker, R. Medzhitov. Role of Tissue Protection in Lethal Respiratory Viral-Bacterial Coinfection. Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1233632

Cite This Page:

University of Vienna. "Flu and bacteria: Better prognosis for this potentially fatal combination." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130426115447.htm>.
University of Vienna. (2013, April 26). Flu and bacteria: Better prognosis for this potentially fatal combination. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130426115447.htm
University of Vienna. "Flu and bacteria: Better prognosis for this potentially fatal combination." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130426115447.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

Raw: Rare Lion Cubs Make Debut at Belgrade Zoo

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) Two white lion cubs were born in Belgrade zoo three weeks ago. White lions are a rare mutation of a species found in South Africa and some cultures consider them divine. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

Sweet Times for Hard Cider Makers

AP (Oct. 16, 2014) With hard cider making a hardcore comeback across the country, craft makers are trying to keep up with demand and apple growers are tapping a juicy new revenue stream. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Meet Garfi the Angry Cat

Buzz60 (Oct. 16, 2014) Garfi is one frowny, feisty feline - downright angry! Ko Im (@koimtv) introduces us to the latest animal celebrity taking over the Internet. You can follow more of Garfi's adventures on Twitter (@MeetGarfi) and Facebook (Garfi). Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins