Influenza Virus Induces Bacterial and Nonbacterial Otitis Media

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Otitis media (OM) is one of the most common childhood diseases. OM can arise when a viral infection enables bacteria to disseminate from the nasopharynx to the middle ear. Here, we provide the first infant murine model for disease. Mice coinfected with Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza virus had high bacterial load in the middle ear, middle ear inflammation, and hearing loss. In contrast, mice colonized with S. pneumoniae alone had significantly less bacteria in the ear, minimal hearing loss, and no inflammation. Of interest, infection with influenza virus alone also caused some middle ear inflammation and hearing loss. Overall, this study provides a clinically relevant and easily accessible animal model to study the pathogenesis and prevention of OM. Moreover, we provide, to our knowledge, the first evidence that influenza virus alone causes middle ear inflammation in infant mice. This inflammation may then play an important role in the development of bacterial OM.

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