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Studies on the etiology of Bornholm disease (epidemic pleurodynia)

II. Epidemiological observations


An epidemic comprising 85 cases with varying symptoms but in obvious epidemiological connection is described. Observations were made at the time on 28 hospitalized patients and later in a field survey of the epidemic region.

The clinical picture varied from typical pleurodynia and aseptic meningitis to minor illness. The age of the patient seemed to have a certain influence upon the type of the manifestations of infection, pleurodynia being more common in adults, aseptic meningitis in children.

Coxsackie virus type B 3 was recovered from 7 of 20 patients examined. Antibodies to this type of virus were consistently found in high titers in the convalescence and a rise in titer during the acute stage was always demonstrable, provided the first blood sample was drawn before the fifth day of illness. The antibody content of a pool of 64 sera from persons having displayed symptoms, collected about three months after the subsidence of the epidemic was about a hundred times higher than those of a number of control groups examined at the same time.

On the basis of this evidence it is concluded that the epidemic in spite of the variations in the clinical manifestations was etiologically homogeneous and caused by Coxsackie virus type B 3.

Coxsackie virus type A 4 recovered from the throat of one patient was for several reasons considered to be without etiological significance for the epidemic in general.

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This study was aided by grants from the Medical Research Fund of Karolinska Institutet. The field investigation was undertaken on the request of the Swedish Royal Medical Board.

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Johnsson, T. Studies on the etiology of Bornholm disease (epidemic pleurodynia). Archiv f Virusforschung 5, 401–412 (1954).

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  • Blood Sample
  • Infectious Disease
  • Meningitis
  • Clinical Manifestation
  • Virus Type