Human astrovirus (HAstV) is a group of positive-sense single stranded RNA viruses that belong to the Astroviridae family of viruses. Originally identified in stools from infected children, astrovirus has since been found to infect mammalian and avian species, and two genera Mamastrovirus (MAstV) and Avastrovirus (AAstV) are currently recognised (Bosch, A et al). Human astroviruses, of the genera Mamastrovirus, predominantly infect young children below the age of 5 years, and cause mild symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. HAstV infection can also cause gastro-intestinal illness in immunocompromised adults, which may be more severe and of longer duration (Vu, DL et al 2016).
Initial immunological studies identified eight distinct serotypes of HAstV that cause diarrhoea in children. These serotypes are now referred to as classic HAstV’s. Subsequent phylogenetic studies identified two novel groups of astroviruses that also infect children. These novel HAstV’s were first identified in Melbourne Australia (HAstV-MLB) and in Virginia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Nepal (HAstV-VA/HMO). Currently, very little is known about the epidemiology or pathogenesis of novel HAstV’s but studies suggest that novel HAstV’s may cause clinical complications, affecting the central nervous system, in immunocompromised patients (Vu, DL et al 2017).
- Bosch, A et al (2014). Human Astroviruses. Clin Microbiol Rev. 27: 1048–1074.
- Vu, DL et al (2016). Novel human astroviruses: Novel human diseases? J Clin Virol. 82:56-63
- Vu, DL et al (2017). Epidemiology of Classic and Novel Human Astrovirus: Gastroenteritis and Beyond. Viruses 9: 33.
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