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added 7/2018

Researchers had observed that the blood of some influenza patients did not react with antibodies to the influenza virus that an English team had isolated in 1933. Many therefore suspected that different types of influenza viruses existed.

Thomas Francis, Jr, MD (1900-1969), then a researcher at Rockefeller University in New York City, obtained throat washings and blood samples from ill children at a nearby convalescent home for children. Antibodies from the blood samples did not react with a known influenza virus. Francis was able to infect ferrets with throat washings from one of the patients (surname Lee). Ferrets exhibited symptoms identical to typical influenza symptoms. Other tests led Francis to conclude that he had identified a new type of influenza virus.

According to a classification system that other researchers had already proposed for any newly identified influenza types, Francis deemed the Lee virus influenza B. He published his results in Science magazine.

Francis would go on to play an important role in the testing of the first licensed poliovirus vaccine.

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