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Bacterial Respiratory Tract Colonization Prior to Catching the Flu May Protect Against Severe Illness

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Many studies have shown that more severe illness and even death are likely to result if you develop a secondary respiratory infection after developing influenza. Now, however, a team of researchers based at The Wistar Institute has determined that if you reverse the order of infection, the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (often called pneumococcus) may actually protect against a bad case of the flu.

The researchers discovered that the bacterial protein pneumolysin, which is described as a bacterial virulence factor, might protect macrophages—a type of immune system cell—in the lungs. Their findings, performed in a mouse model of influenza infection, appear in the August issue of the journal Virology, available online now (subscription required).

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