THE OCCURRENCE of excess infant deaths during influenza epidemics (Dauer and Serfling, 1961; Wynne Griffith , 1972) suggests that influenza plays a greater role in infant death and severe illness than is generally recognised (Nelson , 1975; Paisley , 1978). Although children are highly susceptible to influenza infection, their symptoms may be milder than in the adult (Douglas, 1975). However, convulsions, croup and pneumonia also occur (Brocklebank , 1972; Naude , 1974; Spence, Brodie and Masson, 1975; Laraya-Cuasay , 1977; Paisley , 1978). The pathology of influenza in infants has rarely been reported, and then usually in cases complicated by other disease processes (Louria , 1959); by contrast, the findings in adult man (Hers and Mulder, 1961) and in the adult ferret (Francis and Stuart-Harris, 1938) have been well described.

Influenza in the healthy adult ferret is a transient, non-fatal illness, similar to that occurring in the vast majority of human adults (Toms , 1976). This similarity of clinical and pathological responses in man and ferret, and the recognition of fatal infection in the fetal ferret (Collie , 1978) stimulated the present investigation into the susceptibility of the newborn ferret to influenza.


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