Every year, millions of people worldwide experience the common cold or flu-like illnesses. These mild to moderate illnesses are caused by different respiratory viruses, including influenza viruses, rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. But about five per cent of cases will become more complicated and can even be life-threatening. One of the most frequent complications is secondary co-infection with bacteria, which often leads to more severe symptoms and the chance of death.
Dr. Mariya Goncheva, Canada Research Chair in Virology, is studying how bacterial co-infection complicates respiratory viral disease. In particular, she and her research team are focusing on influenza A virus and SARS CoV-2 (the virus behind COVID-19), and the interaction of these viruses with the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Their aim is to understand the three-way relationship that occurs between the host, virus and bacteria, and to use these findings to devise better treatment and prevention strategies.