Interferon alfa was measured by an immunoradiometric assay in the nasopharyngeal secretions of a group of infants admitted to hospital with respiratory syncytial virus infection. Virus replication in the upper respiratory tract was assessed by infectivity assay and by an enzyme linked immunoadsorbent assay for the viral fusion protein on the same nasopharyngeal secretions. All infants were examined daily while in hospital and allocated a score based upon a subjective assessment of the severity of their illness. There was no significant correlation between interferon, virus, or fusion (F) protein secretion and severity of illness or age of infant. It is concluded that poor interferon alfa secretion does not underly the susceptibility of infants to severe infections with this virus.
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