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October 15, 1997

Social Ties and Susceptibility to the Common Cold-Reply

JAMA. 1997;278(15):1232. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550150036020

In Reply.  —Drs Edmunds, Medley, and O'Callaghan suggest that gregarious adults have more contacts with others and therefore would be exposed more often to rhinoviruses resulting in the development of protective immunity. They further argue that in our study, we only measure specific antibody to the challenge strains and that increased exposure to related strains may afford a degree of antibody protection that accounts for why those with diverse networks are less susceptible to rhinovirus-induced colds. However, our data are not consistent with their hypothesis. This is because the neutralizing test detects any antibody (virus specific or nonspecific) that binds to the virus. Even so, we agree with their concern that some aspect of specific immunity that we have not assessed (eg, IgA antibody, cytotoxic T-cell response) could be influenced by social contact across different social domains. However, this possibility is tempered by the fact that social diversity predicts the incidence of