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January 16, 1981

Do Toxic Tetrapeptides Play a Role in Fatal Viral Diseases?

JAMA. 1981;245(3):258-260. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310280034023

CERTAIN viruses, such as the hemorrhagic fever viruses, arenaviruses, and togaviruses, are known to cause high mortality in human populations. Marburg and Ebola viruses cause death in most infected persons. During the smallpox era, there was a high fatality rate, and even today, more common viruses, such as influenza virus, can be fatal in young children and elderly people. Attempts to develop antiviral compounds have not as yet yielded a substance that can cure viral infections in the same way that antibiotics cure bacterial infections.

In virus diseases with a high mortality, little can be done to save the patients in view of the high pathogenicity and morbidity of the viruses. Analysis of the pathological findings in patients who died after a virus infection indicated that organs were affected in which virus multiplication did not take place. Patients who died of smallpox in the first week of illness often showed