Flu viruses favor bacterial infections

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Flu viruses promote secondary bacterial infections

According to the pediatrician Dr. Martin Terhardt often suffers from additional bacterial infections in children with flu. The bacteria are usually pneumococci or Streptococcus pneumoniae, which belong to the streptococci. Bacterial inflammation can lead to further, sometimes serious complications.

Bacterial secondary infections can cause meningitis. The interplay of flu viruses and pneumococci can trigger dangerous diseases such as blood poisoning, otitis media, pneumonia and meningitis. Martin Terhardt, member of the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute, explains: "Pneumococci are found in about 80 percent of small children in the nasopharynx area without causing any damage." The pediatrician continues to report : "Only when a child gets flu can these bacteria spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or ear, but also blood and brain, and lead to bacterial co-infection or even life-threatening, renewed infection with the same pathogen, lead to a super infection. ”

Serious illnesses only caused by secondary infection According to Terhardt, secondary infections in children with flu are particularly responsible for the severe illnesses. This is also confirmed by autopsies of victims of the Spanish flu, in which the interaction of flu viruses and pneumococci in large part led to death. The scientists succeeded in proving that the bacteria could only spread to different organisms if they were already ill with the flu. If the flu virus was prevented, the pneumococci could not spread any further.

The scientists believe it very likely that the bacterial load in the body of a pneumococcal wearer will be increased by flu viruses. Furthermore, it is suspected that the viruses also make previously unaffected people more susceptible to the bacteria, since they weaken the immune system. Terhardt explains: "Influenza viruses, for example, destroy the cleansing ciliated epithelium of the mucous membrane in the respiratory tract and thus offer an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria." Young children are particularly susceptible to these pneumococcal diseases when interacting with flu viruses. Terhardt explains that a flu shot is recommended for young children and the elderly as well as for the chronically ill.

Robert Koch Institute recommends flu vaccination for certain groups of people The Robert Koch Institute's Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) advises certain groups of people who are particularly at risk of getting flu vaccinations. The background is a flu wave, the outbreak of which is feared in the next few weeks. Flu expert Silke Buda from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) explains: "It has never happened that she never misses." Although the optimal vaccination period would be in October and November, you can still get flu vaccinations now. Because the build-up of protection by your own immune system takes about two weeks after the vaccination. The expert adds: "The seasonal flu wave usually begins in late January or early February." (Ag)

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