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J Gen Virol. 2009 Dec;90(Pt 12):2965-72. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.014449-0. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Multiple novel astrovirus species in human stool.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California San Francisco, and Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Diarrhoea remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries where numerous cases remain without identified aetiology. Astroviruses are a recently identified cause of animal gastroenteritis which currently includes two species suspected of causing human diarrhoea. Using pan-astrovirus RT-PCR, we analysed human stool samples from different continents for astrovirus-related RNA sequences. We identified variants of the two known human astrovirus species plus, based on genetic distance criteria, three novel astrovirus species all distantly related to mink and ovine astroviruses, which we provisionally named HMOAstV species A-C. The complete genome of species A displayed all the conserved characteristics of mammalian astroviruses. Each of the now three groups of astroviruses found in human stool (HAstV, AstV-MLB and HMOAstV) were more closely related to animal astroviruses than to each other, indicating that human astroviruses may periodically emerge from zoonotic transmissions. Based on the pathogenic impact of their closest phylogenetic relatives in animals, further investigations of the role of HMOAstV, so far detected in Nigeria, Nepal and Pakistan, in human gastroenteritis are warranted.

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