Following infection with an influenza virus, infected or recently recovered individuals become transiently susceptible to excess bacterial infections, particularly Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. Indeed, in the absence of preexisting comorbidities, bacterial infections are a leading cause of severe disease during influenza epidemics. While this synergy has been known and is well studied, what has not been explored is the natural extension of these interactions to live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs). Here we show, in mice, that vaccination with LAIV primes the upper respiratory tract for increased bacterial growth and persistence of bacterial carriage, in a manner nearly identical to that seen following wild-type influenza virus infections. Importantly, LAIV, unlike wild-type virus, did not increase severe bacterial disease of the lower respiratory tract. These findings may have consequences for individual bacterial disease processes within the upper respiratory tract, as well as bacterial transmission dynamics within LAIV-vaccinated populations.
Community interactions at mucosal surfaces between viruses, like influenza virus, and respiratory bacterial pathogens are important contributors toward pathogenesis of bacterial disease. What has not been considered is the natural extension of these interactions to live attenuated immunizations, and in particular, live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs). Using a mouse-adapted LAIV against influenza A (H3N2) virus carrying the same mutations as the human FluMist vaccine, we find that LAIV vaccination reverses normal bacterial clearance from the nasopharynx and significantly increases bacterial carriage densities of the clinically important bacterial pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae (serotypes 19F and 7F) and Staphylococcus aureus (strains Newman and Wright) within the upper respiratory tract of mice. Vaccination with LAIV also resulted in 2- to 5-fold increases in mean durations of bacterial carriage. Furthermore, we show that the increases in carriage density and duration were nearly identical in all aspects to changes in bacterial colonizing dynamics following infection with wild-type (WT) influenza virus. Importantly, LAIV, unlike WT influenza viruses, had no effect on severe bacterial disease or mortality within the lower respiratory tract. Our findings are, to the best of our knowledge, the first to demonstrate that vaccination with a live attenuated viral vaccine can directly modulate colonizing dynamics of important and unrelated human bacterial pathogens, and does so in a manner highly analogous to that seen following wild-type virus infection.