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J Pediatr. 1993 Nov;123(5):725-32.

Outbreaks of astrovirus gastroenteritis in day care centers.

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Center for Pediatric Research, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk.



This study evaluated astrovirus as a cause of diarrhea outbreaks among infants and toddlers in day care centers.


Stool specimens were collected weekly during four periods (from January 1986 through December 1991) from children 6 to 30 months of age who were enrolled in prospective studies of diarrhea in day care centers. All diarrheal stool specimens were tested for bacterial enteropathogens, rotavirus, enteric adenovirus, and Giardia lamblia. A total of 1365 stool specimens from 70 outbreaks in which no etiologic agent was identified and from another 11 outbreaks with a known cause were tested for astrovirus, by means of a monoclonal antibody-based enzyme immunoassay. Confirmatory testing was performed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction with primers designed to produce an 89 base-pair product.


Astrovirus was detected in 6 (7%) of the 81 outbreaks. Of 217 children tested, 73 (34%) were infected with astrovirus; infections in 35 (48%) were symptomatic and in 38 (52%) asymptomatic. The six outbreaks lasted 11 to 44 days (median 22 days). Astrovirus excretion was detected for a duration of 2 to 30 days, with excretion occurring from 1 to 8 days (median 2 days) before diarrhea began to 1 to 20 days (median 2 days) after diarrhea ceased. Younger children (< or = 12 months) were at greater risk than older children (p = 0.011) of becoming infected with astrovirus during an outbreak and were more likely (p = 0.015) to have symptoms when infected. Of 24 specimens with astrovirus by enzyme immunoassay, 20 (83%) were confirmed to have the virus by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.


Astrovirus was an important cause of outbreaks of diarrhea among children attending day care centers, more frequently infected younger children, and often produced asymptomatic infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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