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Bacteria Fights Off Viruses

There may be a good reason why our bodies are covered with bacteria: It turns out that bacteria fights off viruses.

Science Daily quotes researcher David Artis as saying, "From our studies in mice, we found that signals derived from these beneficial microbes are essential for optimal immune responses to experimental viral infections. In one way we could consider these microbes as our 'brothers in arms' in the fight against infectious diseases."

Bacteria communities colonize skin surfaces, as well as the vaginal, upper respiratory, and gastrointestinal tracts of mammals. These communities consist of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. The largest and most diverse microbial communities live in the intestine.

Especially in our guts: healthy humans harbor an enormous and diverse group of bacteria and other bugs that live within their intestines. These microbial partners not only help us digest food, they aid in the development of a healthy immune system.

Science Daily quotes researcher Michael Abt as saying, "It is remarkable that signals derived from one type of microbe, in this case bacteria, can have such a profound effect on immune responses to viruses that are a very different type of microbe. Just like we would set a thermostat to regulate when a heater should come on, our studies indicate that signals derived from (the bacteria in our intestines) are required to set the activation threshold of the immune system."

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