Researcher reviews influenza, bacterial superinfections in Nature Reviews Microbiology

April 17, 2014

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Pediatrician-in-Chief Jon McCullers, MD, was recently invited to submit a review in the April issue of Nature Reviews Microbiology, one of the world's foremost scientific publications. Dr. McCullers, a world-renowned infectious disease specialist, and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, analyzed the epidemiology and microbiology of co-infections during the 1918, 1957 and 1968 pandemics, as well as more recent 2009 novel H1N1 pandemic.

He reviewed the co-pathogenesis of with bacteria in the lung. Bacterial superinfection in the lungs of those suffering from influenza is a key element that promotes severe disease and mortality.

The co-pathogenesis McCullers reviewed is characterized by complex interactions between co-infecting pathogens and the host, leading to the disruption of physical barriers, dysregulation of immune responses and delays in a return to homeostasis.

The net effect of this cascade can be the outgrowth of the pathogens, immune-mediated pathology and increased morbidity.

McCullers calls for large-scale studies involving consortia or clinical networks to unlock the next unanswered questions about co-infections and viruses in order to prevent the loss of life of a pandemic similar to the one in 1918.

"There is increasing recognition that most pneumonia is caused by co-infections rather than a single pathogen, and the most severe disease seen in influenza pandemics is mediated by co-infecting bacteria working with the virus," said McCullers. "The scientific community must help the world prepare for the next pandemic by understanding a set of key, unanswered questions that are addressed in this review."

Related Stories

Earliest known evidence of 1918 influenza pandemic found

September 19, 2011

Examination of lung tissue and other autopsy material from 68 American soldiers who died of respiratory infections in 1918 has revealed that the influenza virus that eventually killed 50 million people worldwide was circulating ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.