Respiratory Tract Infection

RespiratoryTract Infection

RespiratoryTract Infection

Theinfluenza virus infects the respiratory system of the host. Thispaper provides the analysis of a case study of a child named Marshallwho suffered from influenza infection. The boy woke-up feeling tiredand achy. The school called his mother, but the diseases had weakenedthe body of the 3.5 year-old boy to an extent that he could not playwith other children by the time his parent arrived. The case studyanalysis will respond to three questions as considered below.

Question1: Why Marshall could be suffering from influenza, instead of cold

Thereare two major factors that could influence Patricia to believe thather son is suffering from influenza. The first one is the fact thatinfluenza has more severe symptoms than the cold (Hruska, 2013). Thiscan be confirmed by the extent to which the disease affectedMarshall’s ability to engage in his daily activities. For aninstant, the boy had lost the ability to play with other kids by thetime his mother arrived.

Thesecond factor is the severity with which the symptoms develop. Inmost cases, influenza symptoms develop within a few hours while thoseof a cold take some days (Hruska, 2013). In the present case study,the first set of signs was discovered in the morning when he woke-up,and the diseases had worsened by the afternoon of the same day. Fromthe case study, Marshall felt achy and tired in the morning and hehad developed chills, fever, runny nose, dry cough, and sore throatby the afternoon. A cold would have taken more than a day to developall these symptoms and they could not be severe.

Significanceof a diagnosis

Amedical diagnosis of influenza is important because it is the onlyaccurate way of determining whether the patient is suffering from thedisease. Other factors (such as the severity and the speed with whichsymptoms develop) may be subjective. The accuracy provided by amedical diagnosis reduces the risk of medical errors by ensuring thatthe patient is given the correct prescription (Grossman, 2013).

Question2: Pathophysiology

Theinfluenza virus has two types of protein, neuraminidase andhemagglutinin, which increase its level of virulence. These proteinsneutralize antibodies that are produced by the patient’s immunesystem. Hemagglutinin help the pathogenic cell bind the epithelialcells that are located on the respiratory tract (Hruska, 2013).Neuraminidase separates virons that are formed by the union betweenthe pathogen and the epithelial cells. The cleaved virons are able tospread to other cells and infect them as well. The ability of thevirus to infect and cleave increases the speed at which its symptomsdevelop since a single virus can attack more than one human cell.

Thehigh speed with which influenza A mutates is another property thatallows the pathogen to exert its effect in patients. It is estimatedthat the virus mutates at the rate of about 300 times compared toother types of the disease causing microorganism (Wohlbold &ampKrammer, 2014). The change in its genetic composition helps it toevade the antibodies, thus subjecting the patients to the high riskof infection and a rapid spread of the virus.

Theother critical factor is the occurrence of influenza virus as aspecies-specific pathogen. This implies that each type of influenza Avirus infect animals of different species. However, influenza is ableto acquire the genetic composition of the virus that infects humancells. Consequently, human beings may suffer from influenza that iscaused by a virus whose original genetic composition was designed fora different species (Hruska, 2013). This is accomplished through arapid genetic mutation process that involves the acquisition of genesthat can help it infect human cells.

Question3: Secondary bacterial infection

Therisk of suffering from secondary bacterial infection could beattributed to the role that influenza virus plays in degrading theepithelia wall. The virus corrodes the mucus membrane along thenasopharynx, which increases the secretion of mucus (Grossman, 2013).The mucus increases the risk of infection in two ways. First, themucus inhibits macrophage that prevents infection. Secondly, themucus creates a surface on which bacteria can attach before causingan infection. Therefore, the mucus limits the strength of theimmunity and facilitates the bacterial activity at the same time,which explains why Marshal could be at the risk of suffering from asecondary infection. An infection with pneumonia results in asignificant inflammation. This inflammation limits the exchange ofgases across the membrane of the walls of alveoli (Grossman, 2013).Consequently, the concentration of hemoglobin declines leading to acondition known as cyanosis.


Patriciaconcluded that Marshall could be suffering from influenza because ofthe rapid development of severe symptoms. Some of the properties thathelp influenza A to impart its effects on the host include theavailability of proteins that neutralize the antibodies, the rapidmutation, and its species-specific nature. The corrosion of the mucusmembrane, followed by the excess secretion of mucus could subjectMarshall to the risk of contracting a secondary bacterial infection.


Grossman,S. (2013). Porth’spathophysiology: Concepts of altered health states (9thed.).Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins.

Hruska,K. (2013). Antiviral agents targeting the influenza virus: A reviewand publication analysis. VeterinarniMedicina,58 (3), 113-185.

Wohlbold,T. &amp Krammer, F. (2014). In the shadow of Hemagglutinin: Agrowing interest in influenza viral neuraminidase and its role as avaccine antigen. Viruses,4, 2465-2494. Retrieved May 12, 2016, from