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.

Related Articles


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 January 29, 2015 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 January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brawling Pandas Are Violently Adorable

Brawling Pandas Are Violently Adorable

Buzz60 (Jan. 29, 2015) Video of pandas play fighting at the Chengdu Research Base in China will make your day. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) shows us. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3-D Printed Wheelchair Helps Two-Legged Dog Learn to Run

3-D Printed Wheelchair Helps Two-Legged Dog Learn to Run

Buzz60 (Jan. 29, 2015) 3-D printing helps another two-legged dog run around with his four-legged friends. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the adorable video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

Dogs Bring on So Many Different Emotions in Their Human Best Friends

RightThisMinute (Jan. 28, 2015) From new-puppy happy tears to helpful-grocery-carrying-dog laughter, our four-legged best friends can make us feel the entire spectrum of emotions. Video provided by RightThisMinute
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