During the last forty years the problem concerning the etiology of influenza has passed through two definite periods. Following Pfeiffer's1 announcement of the discovery of an organism which he believed to be the cause of influenza, numerous investigations were carried out on the isolation of this organism and these studies rapidly confirmed Pfeiffer's assertion. Thus the term "influenza," which previously had been used to describe a clinical condition, gained an etiologic significance and it was generally considered that Pfeiffer's bacillus was the causal agent of this disease.
However, more extensive investigations during the pandemic of 1918-1919 and during the succeeding epidemics have tended to cast doubt on the validity of Pfeiffer's interpretations. From a mass of conflicting reports, four schools of thought regarding the etiology of influenza have developed; one which regards Pfeiffer's bacillus as the cause, another which believes that a green-producing streptococcus is involved, a third which
LONG PH, BLISS EA, CARPENTER HM. ETIOLOGY OF INFLUENZA: TRANSMISSION EXPERIMENTS IN CHIMPANZEES WITH FILTERED MATERIAL DERIVED FROM HUMAN INFLUENZA. JAMA. 1931;97(16):1122–1127. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02730160004002
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