Twenty-seven babies from one deprived housing area in Glasgow were followed-up regularly, for periods varying between 2 months and 11 months (mean 7 months), in a prospective study of the viruses to be found in their stools by electron microscopy. Weekly stool specimens were collected in the home together with a history of the baby's health. Additional stool specimens were obtained, up to a maximum of one per day, during admissions to hospital. Over 500 specimens were obtained at home and another 320 in hospital. A wide variety of viruses (over 200 recognizates) were detected and it has been possible to plot their temporal relation to disease episodes. It became apparent that virus excretion was frequently unaccompanied by evidence of illness and it has not been possible to describe a typical illness syndrome associated with any of the morphological types of virus observed.
The results suggest that, in one area of Glasgow at least, patterns of virus excretion in young babies are complex and will need further elucidation before the need for a vaccine to prevent infantile diarrhoea could be defined.