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Influenza infection increases likelihood of bacterial pneumonia 100-fold, U-Michigan-led study finds

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It's been known for more than two centuries that pneumonia cases increase during flu epidemics.

But population-level epidemiological studies looking at seasonal patterns of influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia incidence have revealed either a modest association or have failed to identify any signature of interaction between the two.

These seemingly inconsistent observations at the personal and population scales have puzzled public health officials. Now a team of University of Michigan researchers and their colleagues have used a novel approach that they say resolves the dichotomy and shows that influenza infection increases susceptibility to pneumococcus, the most common bacterial cause of pneumonia, by about 100-fold.

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