From Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
March 27, 2018
People infected with West Nile virus can show a wide range of disease. Some develop life-threatening brain infections. Others show no signs of infection at all. One reason for the different outcomes may lie in the community of microbes that populate their intestinal tracts.
A study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows that mice are more susceptible to severe West Nile disease if they have recently taken antibiotics that change the make-up of their gut bacterial community.
“The immune system is activated differently if the gut does not have a healthy microbiome,” said senior author Michael S. Diamond, MD, PhD, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine. “If someone is sick with a bacterial infection, they absolutely should take antibiotics. But it is important to remember that there may be collateral effects. You might be affecting your immune response to certain viral infections.”