Interactions between viruses and bacteria in patients with chronic bronchitis

J Infect Dis. 1976 Dec;134(6):552-61. doi: 10.1093/infdis/134.6.552.


The possibility that viral infections of the respiratory tract might predispose to bacterial colonization or infection was studied in 120 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 30 control subjects; these individuals were observed for seven years. The ratio of the number of observed to the number of expected associations between viruses and bacteria was 2.43 (P = 0.037) for the pair influenza virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae and was 2.06 (P = 0.056) for influenza virus and Haemophilus influenzae. Consistently positive, but not significant, associations were detected between rhinovirus and herpes simplex virus infections and isolations of S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae. In contrast, isolations of the nonpathogenic Haemophilus parainfluenzae could not be related to prior viral infections. Significant rises in titer of antibody to H. influenzae were detected on 76 occasions, and 20 (26%) of these antibody rises were associated with viral or mycoplasmal infections during the preceding 120 days. The expected number of such associations was 8.34 (ratio of number observed to number expected, 2.40; P = 0.08). These results suggest that viral infections of the respiratory tract in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are associated with increased colonization by potentially pathogenic bacteria and may also predispose to infections with H. influenzae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Bronchitis / microbiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Complement Fixation Tests
  • Haemophilus Infections / complications
  • Haemophilus influenzae / immunology
  • Haemophilus influenzae / isolation & purification
  • Herpesviridae Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Streptococcal Infections / complications
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification


  • Antibodies, Bacterial