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Rev Med Virol. 2012 Jul;22(4):245-56. doi: 10.1002/rmv.1707. Epub 2012 Feb 7.

Picobirnavirus infections: viral persistence and zoonotic potential.

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Division of Virology, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata, West Bengal, India.


Picobirnaviruses (PBVs) are small, non-enveloped, bisegmented double-stranded RNA genomic viruses of vertebrate hosts. Since their discovery in the late 1980s in clinical specimens from outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis in children, significant efforts have been made to investigate the role of PBV in diarrheic diseases. PBV has been detected in sporadic episodes of diarrhea as sole pathogen or coinfection as well as in outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis and in immunocompromised patients with diarrhea. However, PBV is frequently detected in non-diarrheic healthy hosts, and prolonged shedding has been observed in some individuals. Of interest, similar patterns of PBV infection have also been observed in pigs and other animal hosts. The increasing amount of PBV sequence data gathered from molecular epidemiological studies has evidenced a great sequence diversity of PBVs in various hosts and environmental samples. Importantly, evidence has been found for genetic relatedness between human and animal PBV strains, suggesting extant crossing points in the ecology and evolution of heterologous PBV strains. At present, no cell culture and animal model exists for PBVs. Well-structured epidemiological studies are still the only alternative to demonstrate the potential etiological role of PBVs in acute gastroenteritis or other diseases. This review aims to analyze the public health aspects of PBV infection, especially its possible association with zoonosis.

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