Astrovirus Infections

Clinical Manifestations of Astrovirus Infections

Astrovirus Infections is a major cause of acute diarrhea among children. Human astrovirus (HAstV), along with rotavirus and calicivirus, is recognized as a common cause of infantile acute gastroenteritis. Illness is characterized by diarrhea of short duration accompanied by vomiting, fever and, occasionally, abdominal pain and mild dehydration.

Duration of Astrovirus Infections

Infection in an immunocompetent host is self-limited, lasting a median of 5 to 6 days. Asymptomatic infections are common.

Etiology of Astrovirus Infections

Astroviruses are nonenveloped, singlestranded RNA viruses with a characteristic starlike appearance when visualized by electron microscopy. Eight human antigenic types originally were described, and several novel species have been identified.

Epidemiology of Astrovirus Infections

Astroviruses have been detected in as many as 10% to 34% of sporadic cases of non bacterial gastroenteritis among young children but uncommonly cause severe childhood gastroenteritis requiring hospitalization. Astrovirus infections occur predominantly in children younger than 4 years; these infections peak during the late winter and spring.

Transmission of Astrovirus Infections

Transmission is person to person via the fecal-oral route. Outbreaks tend to occur in closed populations of young and elderly persons. Excretion lasts a median of 5 days after illness onset, but asymptomatic excretion can last for several weeks.

Incubation Period

Incubation Period is 1 to 4 days.

Diagnostic Tests for Astrovirus Infections

Commercial tests for diagnosis are not available. Some reference laboratories test fecal specimens by electron microscopy for detection of viral particles, enzyme immunoassay for detection of viral antigen, and reverse transcriptase PCR assay for detection of viral RNA in stool.

Treatment of Astrovirus Infections

No antiviral therapy is available. Oral or parenteral fluids and electrolytes are given to prevent and correct dehydration.

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