JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Human astrovirus-associated gastroenteritis in children under 2 years of age followed prospectively during a rotavirus vaccine trial.

This study evaluated the clinical significance of human astrovirus-associated gastroenteritis in young children in the community. Placebo- (n = 1207) and rhesus rotavirus tetravalent (RRV-TV) vaccine- (n = 1191) recipient children were followed from 2 mo to 2 y of age. Stool specimens from 1528 episodes of acute gastroenteritis (805 in the placebo group and 723 in the RRV-TV vaccine group) were tested for astrovirus with a sensitive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay and positive results were confirmed by Southern hybridization using probes specific for astrovirus serotypes 1 and 2. Astroviruses were detected in 144 (9%) episodes of gastroenteritis; 92% of the findings were serotype 1 and 6% were serotype 2. The astrovirus peak season was in winter. Of the 102 children who had gastroenteritis with astrovirus as the only diarrhoea virus in the stools, 72% had watery diarrhoea, 59% had vomiting, 26% had fever, 5% needed oral rehydration and 3% were hospitalized. Overall, the clinical severity of astrovirus gastroenteritis was much lower than that of rotavirus gastroenteritis. RRV-TV rotavirus vaccine did not protect against astrovirus gastroenteritis. It is concluded that astroviruses are common causative agents in acute gastroenteritis in young children, but the symptoms of astrovirus gastroenteritis are usually mild and the illness is therefore only of minor clinical significance.

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