Pathogen. The astrovirus is 28-30 nm in size and owes its name to its starlike appearance. It contains sense RNA with approximately 7 500 nucleotides and appears to have a replication strategy similar to that of the picornaviruses.
Pathogenesis and clinical picture. Astroviruses that are animal and human pathogens are associated with episodes of diarrhea that nearly always run a harmless course. The etiological role of these viruses has still not been clarified. Astroviruses appear to possess only a low level of pathogenicity. It should be mentioned at this point that the role of viruses in enteritis is frequently exaggerated.
Diagnosis. Detection by means of electron microscopy.
Epidemiology. Astroviruses occur worldwide. They tend to infect young children and older persons weakened by other diseases.
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