TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Researchers find influenza increases chances of bacterial pneumonia

Researchers from the University of Michigan announced on Wednesday that influenza infection increases a person's susceptibility to bacterial pneumonia by 100-fold.

Scientists have found inconsistent results when trying to find if influenza was responsible for helping foster bacterial pneumonia. The researchers used a novel approach that resolved the previous problems and gave them definite results.

"We infer modest population-level impacts arising from strong processes at the level of the individual, thereby resolving the dichotomy in seemingly inconsistent observations across scales," Pejman Rohani, U of M population ecologist and epidemiologist, said.

The results, which were published online in the Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday, detail how the researchers used a compute model of pneumococcal pneumonia transmission, which then analyzed different hypotheses about the potential effects of a prior influenza infection. By giving the model hard data with hospitalization records in Illinois between 1989 and 2009, the researchers were able to rank the likelihood of their hypothesis.

The researchers' results showed that at the peak of influenza season, interaction with the influenza virus accounted for up to 40 percent of pneumococcal cases.

"The results concerning the nature of the interaction between influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia were unequivocal in our study," Rohani said. ""Simply put, our analyses identified a short-lived but significant -- about 100-fold -- increase in the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia following influenza infection."