Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Learning from History: Swine Flu & Antibiotics

With so much emphasis now on not using antibiotics it may be time to look at the evidence in the current pandemic of Influenza A H1N1 (WHO) or Swine flu (U.K.). News of death from Streptococcal septicaemia of a girl is reported in the Times. Bacteria are very crafty indeed and they wait for the right moment to strike. (See Quorum Sensing )
1 Oct., 2008 David M. Morens, Jeffery K. Taubenberger, and Anthony S. Fauci
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, N
ational Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Background. Despite the availability of published data on 4 pandemics that have occurred over the past 120 years, there is little modern information on the causes of death associated with influenza pandemics.
Methods. We examined relevant inform
ation from the most recent influenza pandemic that occurred during the era prior to the use of antibiotics, the 1918–1919 “Spanish flu” pandemic. We examined lung tissue sections obtained during 58 autopsies and reviewed pathologic and bacteriologic data from 109 published autopsy series that described 8398 individual autopsy investigations.
Results. The postmortem samples we examined from people who died of influenza during 1918–1919 uniformly exhibited severe changes indicative of bacterial pneumonia. Bacteriologic and histopathologic results from published autopsy series clearly and consistently implicated secondary bacterial pneumonia caused by common upper respiratory– tract bacteria in most influenza fatalities.


In an article in PBS:

"Conventional wisdom tod
ay is that everyone who died then died of viral infection, but that's just not true -- and that was known back then," said Morens.
“The research suggests that public health officials planning for the next flu outbreak should consider both viral and bacterial infections. The 1918 flu outbreak occurred before modern antibiotics. It's unclear whether modern antibiotics would have been able to mitigate it, Morens said, because even modern antibiotics would have had to have been used very quickly to be effective against such severe bacterial pneumonia.”




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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is true that time is important as the bacterial infection can be extremely overwhelming. We tend now to back off from starting antibiotics at all.

Informative URL for 3 Star Tillamook Hotels Garibaldi House Inn said...

Antibiotics do not treat swine flu. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, while swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus. Antiviral medications -- not antibiotics -- can treat swine flu by slowing the virus's ability to reproduce in the body.