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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