What is the role of influenza virus in the pathophysiology of viral pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Infection by influenza virus leads to cell death, especially in the upper airway. When direct viral infection of lung parenchyma occurs, hemorrhage is seen along with a relative lack of inflammatory cells. Mucociliary clearance is impaired, and bacterial adherence to respiratory epithelium occurs.

Infection with the influenza virus impairs T lymphocytes, neutrophils, and macrophage function, which leads to impairment of host defenses and may foster bacterial infection of normally sterile areas, including the lower respiratory tract. This impairment of host defenses may explain why as many as 53% of outpatients with bacterial pneumonia have a concurrent viral infection.

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