It takes two to tango – bacterial-viral interactions in the pathogenesis of respiratory tract infections

Abstract number: S496

McCullers J.

Over the last decade, influenza and pneumonia have ranked as the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In the developing world, the problem is even more acute, as respiratory tract infections are the leading cause of death in children outside of the neonatal period. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading bacterial cause of pneumonia, sepsis, otitis media, and meningitis and accounts for a significant portion of this mortality. Influenza is also a major contributor, both as a primary infection and by interacting with bacterial pathogens to increase the incidence and severity of pneumonia. While the pneumococcus is the most common secondary pathogen following influenza in typical inter-pandemic years, affecting mainly the young and the frail elderly, Staphylococcus aureus is seen more commonly when highly virulent viral strains circulate, and has been emerging in recent years as a cause of necrotising pneumonia as a co-pathogen with influenza in healthy children and young adults. Our laboratory studies the mechanisms that underlie the interactions between respiratory viruses such as influenza virus and bacterial pathogens such as S. pneumoniae and S. aureus. The approach we have taken is to isolate specific virulence factors in the virus or bacterium and use genetic approaches to modify or delete them, allowing assessment of their impact in relevant animal models. Certain themes of cooperation between pathogens have emerged from this analysis, giving us insight into specific pathogenic mechanisms and revealing how these differ for different viral-bacterial pairs, or between different strains of one of the pathogens. These findings in the laboratory can then be related back to the epidemiology of co-infections in humans, helping define the challenges we face in moderating morbidity and mortality from these pathogens. The ultimate goal of this work is to apply this knowledge to facilitate treatment and prevention of these common diseases by targeting the cooperative interactions that make co-infections so deadly.

Session Details

Date: 19/04/2008
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: 18th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Presentation type:
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