Astrovirus infection in children

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Public health concerns related to enteric viral agents, such as astroviruses and caliciviruses, include their ability to cause sporadic diarrhea, large outbreaks of gastroenteritis, and hospitalizations or deaths resulting from vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Improved surveillance and application of sensitive molecular assays has increased awareness of these enteric pathogens and reduced the ‘diagnostic gap’ or unknown causes of non-bacterial gastroenteritis.

Recent findings

Molecular assays have been applied to further describe the epidemiology of human astroviruses from a variety of geographic areas. The burden of astrovirus infections compared with other enteric viral agents, including rotaviruses, caliciviruses, and enteric adenoviruses have been reported. New methods for detection of astroviruses such as reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and molecular typing methods have advanced the understanding of the epidemiology. Additional molecular studies have described the protein processing mechanisms of this single-stranded RNA virus.

Summary

Astroviruses are increasingly recognized as significant gastrointestinal pathogens. The understanding of molecular epidemiology and molecular processing of the virus may lead to specific prevention strategies.

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