Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

Studies of experimental rhinovirus type 2 infections in polar isolation and in England

M. J. Holmesa1 p1, Sylvia E. Reeda2, E. J. Stotta3 and D. A. J. Tyrrella4

a1 British Antarctic Survey

a2 Medical Research Council Common Cold Unit, Harvard Hospital, Salisbury, SP2 8BW, Wilts.

a3 Institute for Research on Animal Diseases, Compton, RG16 0NN, Berks.

a4 Clinical Research Centre, Harrow, HA1 3UJ, Middlesex


After five months of total isolation a wintering party of seventeen British Antarctic Survey (BAS) personnel was inoculated under double blind conditions with placebo, or rhinovirus type 2 which had been propagated in tissue culture. The clinical and virological responses of these subjects were compared with those of volunteers in England who received a similar dose of the same strain. The virus used was apparently partly attenuated for man; at the dosage used its effects in England were similar to a smaller dose of an unattenuated strain, but in the Antarctic it caused relatively severe infections. Both the symptoms and the laboratory evidence of virus infection appeared to be more pronounced in the BAS subjects than in the volunteers in England who received the same challenge. In the former group the infection readily spread to those who were originally given placebo. In the BAS subjects serum antibody titres were well maintained during the isolation period but a significant fall in nasal immunoglobulin concentration was recorded during the 5 months of isolation after the virus challenge. Possible mechanisms for the increased sensitivity to rhinovirus of subjects who have been totally isolated in a small closed community are discussed.

(Received August 18 1975)


p1 Present address: Human Studies Group, LRH/239/17 NASA-Ames Research Centre, california, 94035, U.S.A.