Everybody knows, or atleast we should know,that taking Antibiotics for a case of the flu is an act of futility as these drugs target bacteria, not the viruses that actually cause influenza.


But in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests taking antibiotics for the flu might actually cause harm - or at least make you feel worse.

In studies with mice, researchers found that antibiotics kill beneficial bacterial residing in the intestines. These commensal microbes help fend off viral infections and play a key role in boosting the effectiveness of the Body's Immune response.

The researchers treated mice with four common antibiotics, then injected the rodents with a flu bug. The antibiotics impaired their ability to produce an important flu-fighting molecule called Interleukin-1 beta, which is produced in the intestines. Intestinal bacteria play a key role by constantly priming the gut to produce IL-1 beta.'

The scientists also discovered that what happens in the gut doesn't always stay there. Antibiotic-cleansing of colon bacteria also affected the immune response in organs as far away as the lungs.

The San Diego Union Tribune
22 March 2011