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July 14, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(11):1078-1079. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970110044012

Specific viral pneumonias are recognized parts of influenza, vaccinia, or measles and of diseases of suspected viral origin such as infectious mononucleosis. Yet the view that a similar circumstance may pertain to the pneumonias found at times in patients with banal viral infections of the upper respiratory tract has not been generally accepted. Perhaps the cumbersome term "primary atypical pneumonia of unknown etiology" has obstructed thought. There was reason to regard pulmonary involvement during colds, influenza, and the like as the severest form of the basic infections. The name viral pneumonia was introduced nearly 20 years ago for these pulmonary lesions even though viruses had not been recovered.1 Most other authors have avoided the adjective viral. They have considered these pneumonias as complications or as separate entities caused by different agents. Acute upper respiratory tract infections have been regarded as different diseases, graded according to increasing severity from the