Influenza makes people more susceptible to bacterial infections: Sweden’s Karolinska Institute

  • IASbaba
  • December 4, 2020
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Influenza makes people more susceptible to bacterial infections: Sweden’s Karolinska Institute

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health

In news

  • Recently, researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute have come out with findings on superinfections.
  • They have highlighted that influenza makes people more susceptible to bacterial infections.

Key takeaways

  • When an individual is infected by influenza different nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, leak from the blood.
  • The absence of nutrients and antioxidants creates a favourable environment for bacteria in the lungs.
  • The bacteria adapt to the inflammatory environment by increasing the production of an enzyme called High temperature requirement A (HtrA).
  • The presence of HtrA weakens the immune system and promotes bacterial growth in the influenza-infected airways.
  • The ability of pneumococcus to grow seems to depend on the nutrient-rich environment with its higher levels of antioxidants that occurs during a viral infection, as well as on the bacteria’s ability to adapt to the environment and protect itself from being eradicated by the immune system.
  • The results could be used to find new therapies for double infections between the influenza virus and pneumococcal bacteria.
  • The information can contribute to the research on Covid-19.

Important value addition


  • These are infection occurring after or on top of an earlier infection, especially following treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics. 
  • It is an overgrowth of an opportunistic pathogen from the bacterial or yeast imbalance of systemic antibiotics.
  • For example, influenza is caused by a virus, but the most common cause of death in influenza patients is secondary pneumonia, which is caused by bacteria.


  • It is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system i.e. nose, throat and lungs.
  • It is commonly called the flu.
  • Symptoms: Fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches and fatigue.
  • Flu is primarily treated with rest and fluid intake to allow the body to fight the infection 
  • Young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic disease or weak immune systems are at high risk.


  • It is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. 
  • The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus.
  • Cause: Variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  • Symptoms: Cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills and difficulty breathing.
  • The infection can be life-threatening to anyone, but particularly to infants, children and people over 65.

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