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June 24, 1961

Epidemic Bronchiolitis and Pneumonitis Related to Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

From the Harbor General Hospital and the departments of pediatrics and infectious diseases, School of Medicine, University of California.

JAMA. 1961;176(12):1037-1039. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.63040250020020b

THIS PRELIMINARY report describes an epidemic of acute respiratory disease in infants and children occurring during January, February, and March, 1961, and most probably due to respiratory syncytial (RS) virus. The epidemic is characterized by its predilection for young infants, by low-grade fever, cough, dyspnea, and cyanosis with signs of bronchiolar obstruction and pneumonitis. It is quite similar to an epidemic of primary virus pneumonitis with cytoplasmic inclusion bodies observed by Dr. Adams in January, February, and March, 1937, and first reported in 1941.1,2

In the present epidemic, a viral agent has been isolated in HeLa cells and primary monkey kidney cells directly from throat washings. Eight strains of viruses have been isolated from 12 different patients. Cytopathic changes, characterized by a syncytium, with giant cell formation and distinctive cytoplasmic inclusion bodies, have been demonstrated. No intranuclear inclusions were observed. These changes in cell culture preparations are illustrated in

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