Influenza infections typically present mild to moderate morbidities in immunocompetent host and are often resolved within 14 days of infection onset. Death from influenza infection alone is uncommon; however, antecedent influenza infection often leads to an increased susceptibility to secondary bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia following viral infection exhibits mortality rates greater than 10-fold of those of influenza alone. Furthermore, bacterial pneumonia has been identified as the major contributor to mortality during each of the previous four influenza pandemics. Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, and Streptococcus pyogenes are the most prevalent participants in this pathology. Of note, these lung pathogens are frequently found as commensals of the upper respiratory tract. Herein we describe influenza-induced host-changes that lead to increased susceptibility to bacterial pneumonia, review virulence strategies employed by the most prevalent secondary bacterial pneumonia species, and highlight recent findings of bacterial sensing and responding to the influenza infected environment.
Part of the book: Pneumonia