4 September :Most deaths during the flu pandemic of 1918-1919 were caused not by the flu virus alone but by bacterial pneumonia following flu virus infection, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, report in the October 1 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Pneumonia arose when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs. Because a future flu pandemic could unfold in a similar way, the authors say pandemic preparations should include provisions to stockpile antibiotics and bacterial vaccines.
NIAID co-author and pathologist Jeffery Taubenberger examined preserved lung tissue samples from 58 soldiers who died of flu at U. S. military bases in 1918 and 1919. Examination, he said, showed tissue damage "ranging from changes characteristic of the primary viral pneumonia and evidence of tissue repair to evidence of severe, acute, secondary bacterial pneumonia."
"In essence,” said co-author and NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, “the virus landed the first blow while bacteria delivered the knockout punch."
Courtsey : National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,Anne A. Oplinger