The work could have implications for the management of influenza pandemics and could help reduce incidence of pneumococcal infections in very young children, who are more susceptible to disease.
Streptococcus pneumoniae normally lives harmlessly in the nasal passage. Up to 80% of young children carry the bacterium in their nose. It is already known that if a colonized individual is infected with influenza virus, the bacterium is more likely to spread to other parts of the body and may cause potentially life-threatening infections such as pneumonia, sepsis or meningitis. Young children, the elderly and the immunocompromised are most vulnerable to these secondary bacterial infections. S. pneumoniae kills more than one million children under the age of five each year.
Dr Dimitri Diavatopoulos from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in The Netherlands explains how infection with the flu virus is also necessary for transmitting S. pneumoniae between individuals. His work has shown that in infant mice, all mice had to be infected with flu for pneumococcal bacteria to efficiently spread between them. Blocking influenza infection in these mice effectively prevented the spread of the bacterium.
Viral infection is likely to encourage the spread of pneumonia through a combination of factors, suggested Dr Diavatopoulos. "We think that the flu virus increases the bacterial load in the nose of colonized individuals but also makes uncolonized individuals more susceptible to pneumococcal infection by altering host immunity."
Dr Diavatopoulos believes that learning how viral infections affect not only the development but also the spread of bacterial pathogens will be clinically beneficial. "If we know that the flu virus - and potentially other respiratory viruses – allows the transmission of S. pneumoniae, then targeting these viruses may represent a novel therapeutic strategy to reduce pneumococcal diseases," he said. "During influenza pandemic planning, when a high proportion of the population is infected with the virus, this is important. The findings are particularly relevant to childcare centres as up to 80% of children are asymptomatic carriers of S. pneumonia and are more vulnerable to developing serious infections such as pneumonia or meningitis."
Laura Udakis | EurekAlert!
Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy