Research published in the August issue of Virologysuggests that being infected with the pneumonia-causing Streptococcus pneumoniae could actually protect you from the flu.
On 10 July 2014, Science Daily reported:
“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.
“‘Influenza remains a major killer, and there is a preponderance of evidence, both scientific and historical, to show how secondary bacterial infections can be fatal," said Jan Erikson, Ph.D., professor at The Wistar Institute. "However, pneumococci often colonize the respiratory tract asymptomatically, particularly in children, leading us to consider how pre-colonization would impact a subsequent influenza infection.’”