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Keywords:

  • Co-infection;
  • epidemiology;
  • incidence;
  • influenza;
  • secondary infection

Influenza-associated bacterial and viral infections are responsible for high levels of morbidity and death during pandemic and seasonal influenza episodes. A review was undertaken to assess and evaluate the incidence, epidemiology, aetiology, clinical importance and impact of bacterial and viral co-infection and secondary infection associated with influenza. A review was carried out of published articles covering bacterial and viral infections associated with pandemic and seasonal influenza between 1918 and 2009 (and published through December 2011) to include both pulmonary and extra-pulmonary infections. While pneumococcal infection remains the predominant cause of bacterial pneumonia, the review highlights the importance of other co- and secondary bacterial and viral infections associated with influenza, and the emergence of newly identified dual infections associated with the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain. Severe influenza-associated pneumonia is often bacterial and will necessitate antibiotic treatment. In addition to the well-known bacterial causes, less common bacteria such as Legionella pneumophila may also be associated with influenza when new influenza strains emerge. This review should provide clinicians with an overview of the range of bacterial and viral co- or secondary infections that could present with influenza illness.