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April 29, 1905


Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1905;XLIV(17):1334-1340. doi:10.1001/jama.1905.92500440001001a

Historical.  Two diseases have especially excited the interest and baffled the researches of students of epidemiology and clinical medicine. One is influenza, the other epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis. Influenza has occurred in world pandemics which have been succeeded for varying periods extending over years by recurrent epidemics and sporadic cases and finally by periods of apparent absence of the disease until the sudden recurrence of another great pandemic. The opportunities afforded by the outbreak which began in 1889 have resulted in the discovery of the pathogenic agent of influenza—the bacillus of Pfeiffer—in the recognition of the transmissible nature of the infection and of the existence of sporadic cases by which the disease has been maintained for an indefinite time. But the regions in which the organism has continued to exist and the efficient mechanism by which, after long periods of latency, it suddenly gives rise to its pandemic effects, have thus far eluded research.