Researchers from the Francis Crick Institute have shown that taking antibiotics for a viral infection like the flu can make you more susceptible to the infection.
The team conducted the experiment in mice and discovered that only a third of mice that had been treated with antibiotics and then infected with flu survived the infection. This is a stark difference to the 80% that survived infection that had not been given antibiotics.
It is believed that the antibiotics interfere with the healthy bacteria in the stomach. These bacteria in the gut prepare the immune system to respond to the first signs of a viral infection in the lungs, such as a flu infection, and work to suppress the infection. The bacteria does this by ensuring antiviral genes in the lining of the lungs stays active, and ready to respond to infection. When these helpful bacteria are killed by unnecessary antibiotics the lungs are less able to stop an infection in its tracks. This means the infection may become worse, or indeed deadly.
Source: The Independent
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