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Future Microbiol. 2008 Aug;3(4):397-404. doi: 10.2217/17460913.3.4.397.

Improving therapeutic strategies for secondary bacterial pneumonia following influenza.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 N Lauderdale St, Memphis, TN 38105-2794, USA.


Secondary bacterial pneumonia following influenza is an old problem, which is re-emerging. Despite rapid advances in our armamentarium of antimicrobials, the case-fatality rate for this frequent complication of influenza remains high. In some settings, common treatment options may actually contribute to poor outcomes, as rapid lysis of pathogenic bacteria on the backdrop of an activated immune system responding to influenza may lead to inflammatory damage in the lung. An understanding of the inter-related contributions of the antecedent viral infection, the invading bacteria and the host immune response is necessary to formulate an appropriate therapeutic approach. Prevention and resolution of these fulminant infections will require new approaches, including alternate treatment strategies, combination therapies targeting several aspects of the pathogenic process and, potentially, immunomodulation. In the not-so-distant future, strategies aimed at disarming pathogens without eliminating them may be more effective than our current treatment paradigms.

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