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Flu and strep team up to cause respiratory woes

Memphis, TN, May 20, 2019

Jason Rosch, PhD

St. Jude scientists found that flu virus and strep bacteria stick together, literally. The union likely helps them both.

Streptococcus pneumoniae causes pneumonia and other infections. It is one of the most common and lethal complications of flu. In the U.S., flu and pneumonia are a leading cause of death. Cancer patients have a high risk of death from these diseases.

Researchers found that flu sticks to strep and other common respiratory bacteria. This may help both germs adhere to cells that line the airways. That makes it easier for the germs to spread and cause illness.

The findings offer clues for designing better vaccines.

“The virus and bacteria both likely benefit from the interaction, possibly by hitching a ride to spread the infection when someone who is infected fails to cover their cough or sneeze,” said Jason Rosch, PhD, of Infectious Diseases.

Nature Microbiology published a report on this work.

Read the news release

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