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February 17, 1984

An Acute Infection of the Respiratory Tract With Atypical Pneumonia: A Disease Entity Probably Caused by a Filtrable Virus

Author Affiliations

From the Jefferson Medical College and Hospital.

JAMA. 1984;251(7):936-944. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340310050022

Infections of the respiratory tract are among the most common afflictions of mankind, and pneumonia, which occasionally accompanies or follows them, is the third most common cause of death in the United States. Any progress made in the knowledge of such infections is therefore urgently needed.

Only recently has the physician been armed with comparatively simple methods for the diagnosis of one of these diseases, epidemic influenza, which is now known to be caused by a filtrable virus. Methods for isolating and identifying the virus of the common cold are still too complicated for the average clinical laboratory in routine diagnosis. The discovery of the causative agent of influenza permits separation of the disease as an entity from the undifferentiated group of infections of the respiratory tract and provides a standard, so to speak, against which other entities may be compared. The discovery also confirmed a long established impression gained