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Volume 19, Number 4—April 2013


Etymologia: Syncytium

Suggested citation for this article

Syncytium [sin-sish′e-əm]

From the Greek syn (together) and kytos (receptacle, vessel), a multinucleate mass of protoplasm produced by the merging of cells. Respiratory syncytial virus was discovered in 1956 by Morris et al., who isolated it from a group of chimpanzees with respiratory symptoms. Morris originally called the new agent “chimpanzee coryza agent,” although when Chanock et al. confirmed that the agent caused respiratory illness in humans, it was renamed because “the striking characteristic of these viruses is the production of syncytial areas in tissue culture.”

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  1. Chanock R, Finberg L. Recovery from infants with respiratory illness of a virus related to chimpanzee coryza agent (CCA). II. Epidemiologic aspects of infection in infants and young children. Am J Hyg. 1957;66:291300 .PubMed
  2. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.
  3. Hall CB. Respiratory syncytial virus. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, editors. Principles and practices of infectious diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone; 2010. p. 2207–21.

Suggested citation for this article: Etymologia: Syncytium. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Apr [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1904.ET1904

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