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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 2

First Words

Acute gastroenteritis is a common illness occurring in the neonatal period and throughout life in humans and animals. Infections with viral, bacterial or protozoal pathogens can precipitate the rapid onset of life-threatening symptoms, including diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and dehydration due to fluid and electrolyte loss.

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Aetiological importance of viruses causing acute gastroenteritis in humans

Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is a common illness affecting all age groups worldwide causing 2.2 million deaths annually. Viruses including rotaviruses, noroviruses, enteric adenoviruses and astroviruses are the major cause of AGE, with rotavirus causing the majority of severe illness. Advances in molecular techniques have led to the identification of many more viruses in faeces. Proving an association with AGE will require prospective controlled trials which so far are few in number.

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Viral enteritis in domestic animals

Viral enteritis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in neonatal domestic animals, but the most significant pathogens responsible vary considerably between animal species. The viral pathogens currently recognised as significant concerns in animal health were all identified over 20 years ago, and there has been limited recent investigation of the aetiology of viral enteritis in domestic animals using newer pathogen discovery techniques. While effective vaccines are available to control some of these enteric pathogens in some animal specie...

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Impact of rotavirus vaccination on childhood gastroenteriti

Rotaviruses are the most common cause of severe childhood gastroenteritis worldwide. The recent development of safe and effective rotavirus vaccines means that the global health and economic burden of rotavirus disease can now be reduced.

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Rotavirus infection in Northern Territory before and after vaccination

Globally, rotavirus vaccines have been found to have reduced effectiveness in resource-poor and high disease burden settings. Prior to vaccination, the burden of rotavirus gastroenteritis was substantially higher among Indigenous children in the Northern Territory (NT) than among other Australian children, giving rise to concern about the likely impact of vaccination in this population. Post-licensure studies in the NT indicate that vaccination protects infants against hospitalisation in this setting, but vaccine effectiveness (VE) among older ...

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Molecular epidemiology of rotavirus in the era of vaccination

Rotavirus is the principal aetiological agent of severe acute gastroenteritis in young children worldwide. Two vaccines, Rotarix [GlaxoSmithKline] and RotaTeq [Merck], have been developed to address the large burden of disease experienced worldwide. Both vaccines have been successful in decreasing morbidity and mortality associated with rotavirus gastroenteritis. Minor fluctuations in rotavirus epidemiology have been observed since vaccine introduction. However, it is unclear whether these observations are due to selection pressures specific to...

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Importance of host cell receptor specificity and immune responses in rotavirus pathogenesis

Rotavirus is the main cause of severe infantile gastroenteritis worldwide in humans and a significant animal pathogen. Major determinants of the tropism of rotaviruses for particular hosts and cells include the ability to utilise certain cell surface receptors and evade innate host immune responses. Extraintestinal disease manifestations resulting from rotavirus infection are also increasingly being recognised. For example, this virus plays a role in accelerating progression towards the onset of type 1 diabetes in genetically at-risk children a...

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Molecular epidemiology of noroviruses and sapoviruses and their role in Australian outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis

Every winter since 2004, (except 2005) there have been outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis across Australia, caused by norovirus (NoV). These outbreaks are frequently seen in aged-care facilities, hospitals and cruise ships. Why has this become the norm and what has happened in virological terms to cause this? A single genetic lineage of NoV has emerged as the major cause of pandemic and epidemic viral gastroenteritis. The first reported pandemic of acute gastroenteritis occurred in 1996, discovered through the advent of molecular detection assa...

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Pathogenesis and replication of norovirus: following the mouse tail?

The emergence of human noroviruses (NoV) as significant human pathogens over the last decades has highlighted the need to research and understand the replication and pathogenesis of this group of viruses. One of the major hurdles faced by researchers in this field has been the lack of a viable tissue culture system or small animal model with which to study human NoV replication. The discovery of a murine NoV in 2003 and the identification of its tropism for macrophage and dendritic cell lines has provided the opportunity to study aspects of NoV...

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Astroviruses as causative agents of gastroenteritis

Astroviruses were first identified over 30 years ago and the virus was soon established as an important cause of gastroenteritis, particularly in young children. Human astrovirus disease was thought to result from infection by a limited number of serotypes. However, recent studies have indicated that the extent of genetic diversity is greater than previously assumed. In addition, the widespread occurrence among animals and reports of recombination and possible cross-species transmission suggest that astroviruses have zoonotic potential.

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Human bocaviruses – role in human gastroenteritis

Human bocaviruses (HBoVs) are a recently discovered class of viruses associated with respiratory and enteric samples. Four genotypes have been reported and all have been detected in faeces. An association with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) has been reported for HBoV2 but more case-control studies are required to clarify their significance. HBoV1 and 3 are not statistically associated with AGE. The role of HBoV4 is unknown.

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The association of picornaviruses with gastroenteritis

Many members of the family Picornaviridae survive passage through the stomach and some are known to replicate in the intestinal tract. Yet these picornaviruses are not considered as a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis. Further investigation of gastroenteritis cases not associated with viruses known to cause diarrhoea may serve to delineate further between picornaviruses causing gastroenteritis and an incidental finding.

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Role of transmission electron microscopy in the study of gastroenteritis viruses

The technique of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was crucial in the discovery of the major viral causes of gastroenteritis in humans (norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, sapovirus, adenovirus) and subsequently played a valuable role in the detection of these viruses. In the 21st century, TEM continues to play a role in the understanding of viral gastroenteritis but chiefly in a research role rather than in a diagnostic context.

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ASM Affairs, May 2012

My FASM experience

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