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Ciba Found Symp. 1987;128:108-25.

Small round viruses: classification and role in food-borne infections.


Since the first observation of Norwalk virus in the electron microscope in 1972, many different small virus particles in the size range 20-40 nm have been described world-wide in association with outbreaks of gastroenteritis. Progress characterizing these agents has been hampered by the relatively small numbers of particles present in clinical material and the lack of success in culturing them. Although the relationship between some of these viruses remains confusing, a number of distinct groups has emerged, based on morphological features and limited physical data. Immuno-electron microscopy has proved valuable in detecting viruses but the addition of antibody can mask surface morphological features. Examination of viruses in negatively stained preparations without added antibody has revealed distinct morphological differences and viruses previously thought to be simply antigenic variants within the Norwalk group of viruses clearly belong to other groups. Preliminary evidence suggests that one human virus unrelated to Norwalk has a single-stranded DNA genome and is a parvovirus. Some groups have been implicated in outbreaks of food-borne gastroenteritis, particularly after the consumption of shellfish, and their role in other food-borne and water-borne outbreaks is being increasingly recognized.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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