Influenza remains a major cause of death worldwide. And the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns is not optimal. So researchers are looking at other ways to protect us by doping the microbiota in our airways.
The flu is contagious. It spreads quickly from person to person through contaminated microdroplets that we release into the air when we cough or sneeze or through our saliva when we kiss. The virus spreads all the better as it has the unfortunate tendency to remain active for several hours on inert surfaces.
However, some seem almost naturally immune. Researchers at the University of Michigan (United States) think they have understood why. Their study links bacteria in our noses and throats to our sensitivity to the flu virus. By comparing the bacterial composition of samples collected from people who came out of close contact with patients unharmed and those who had influenza, they were able to identify five groups of bacteria that could be of interest in this area.
Dope his microbiota to avoid the flu?
“If you have certain communities of bacteria, you are less likely to get the flu,” says Betsy Foxman, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan. A discovery that brings hope. Would it be possible to boost a person’s microbiota to make it more resistant to virus attacks? “Our work does not allow us to conclude. The road ahead is long and we are only at the beginning,” she admits.
Similar studies in different populations, extensive monitoring of secondary bacterial infections? Or bacterial functional tests? These are some of the epidemiologist’s ideas for further exploration of the subject.