Respiratory infections are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. The presence of multiple heterologous virus infections is routinely observed in a subset of individuals screened for the presence of respiratory viruses. However, the impact overlapping infections has on disease severity and the host immune response is not well understood. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza A virus (IAV) are two of the most common respiratory infections observed in hospitalized patients, particularly in the very young and aged populations. In this study, we examined how the order in which BALB/c mice were infected with both RSV and IAV impacts disease severity. RSV infection prior to an IAV infection was associated with decreased weight loss and increased survival as compared with IAV infection alone. In contrast, IAV infection prior to an RSV infection was associated with similar morbidity and mortality as compared with an IAV infection alone. Our results suggest that the order in which viral infections are acquired plays a critical role in the outcome of disease severity and the host immune response.
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