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J Infect. 2006 Mar;52(3):181-7. Epub 2005 Jun 29.

Is there any specific association between respiratory viruses and bacteria in acute otitis media of young children?

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Department of Microbiology, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.



Respiratory viral infections are usually preceding or coinciding with acute otitis media (AOM) in children. It is not known if a given viral infection would facilitate invasion of bacterial pathogens into the middle ear in a species-specific way. We reanalysed the microbiological results of the two prospective Finnish Otitis Media (FinOM) studies for this purpose.


The children had been followed from 2 months to 2 years of age in specific study clinics and all referred AOM events were analysed. Combined results of virus detection tests from middle ear fluid and nasopharyngeal aspirate and those of bacterial culture from middle ear fluid were cross-tabulated for 529 AOM events in the FinOM Cohort Study and for 364 events in the FinOM Vaccine Trial.


In both studies the main bacterial pathogens were Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis while the main viruses detected were rhinoviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (plus enteroviruses in the Vaccine Trial). No distinct species-specific associations were observed between the viral and bacterial findings.


We did not find support to the theory that respiratory infection caused by a given viral species would favour growth of a certain bacterial pathogen in the MEF more than another.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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