does penicillin (beta-lactamase inhibitors) affect viruses?

Matthias Maiwald maiwald at cmgm.Stanford.EDU
Tue Dec 1 22:12:09 EST 1998

On Mon, 30 Nov 1998, pcolton wrote:
> I am wondering if anyone has any knowledge of any studies or evidence to
> suggest that penicillin (beta-lactamase inhibitors) may have an effect
> on viruses of any sort?
> Would greatly appreciate any help with this.
There is no effect of penicillin or similar substances on viruses. The
notion that viral infections can be treated with antibiotics comes
probably from the empirical observation that common viral infections, such
as influenza or influenza-like respiratory tract infections indeed respond
favourably to antibiotic treatment. The reason for this is that most of
these viral infections have bacterial superinfections, caused by viral
damage to the respiratory tract epithelium cells, which makes them much
more susceptible to bacteria (which would not be the case if there were no
viral infection). 


Matthias Maiwald, MD
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Stanford University School of Medicine
E-MAIL: maiwald at

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