Epidemiological Significance of the Interference Phenomenon

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  • Division of International Health, Public Health Service, Washington, D. C.

Summary and Conclusions

Immune reactions to influenza A and B are so different that the prevalence of one type of influenza would not be influenced by immunity to the other type, and yet a negative correlation between the natural distributions of influenza A and B becomes apparent in the compilation of influenza virus isolations in the United States by year since 1948.

The observation of a negative correlation between the distributions of influenza A and B viruses seems to be inexplicable on the basis of hitherto accepted epidemiological principles. This suggests consideration of interference as an epidemiological factor in the natural distribution of viruses which display interference under experimental conditions. Such a working hypothesis would seem to be consistent with experimental and epidemiological observations and may prove to be tenable at least as long as the negative correlation between natural distributions of interfering viruses continues to hold.