Background: Infection with astroviruses has been associated with gastroenteritis in children, and serologic surveys indicate that this infection may be frequent. The importance of astroviruses as agents of gastroenteritis has not been shown in a controlled study, however.
Methods: We used monoclonal antibody-based enzyme immunoassays to detect astroviruses, enteric adenoviruses, and rotaviruses in stool samples obtained from age-matched children with and children without gastroenteritis. The samples were obtained in two studies, three years apart, among patients attending an outpatient clinic in Bangkok, Thailand.
Results: In the first study, astroviruses were detected in 8.6 percent (96 of 1111) of the children with gastroenteritis and in 2.0 percent (19 of 947) of the children without gastroenteritis. In the second study the rates were 8.6 percent (50 of 580) and 2.1 percent (11 of 512), respectively. For both studies combined, enteric adenoviruses were detected in 2.6 percent of those with gastroenteritis and in 0.5 percent of the controls, whereas rotaviruses were detected in 19 percent of those with gastroenteritis and in 1.0 percent of the controls. The clinical findings associated with astrovirus infection were similar to those associated with rotavirus infection, except for a trend toward greater dehydration in the children infected with rotaviruses.
Conclusions: These two controlled studies involving a total of 3150 Thai children provide evidence that astroviruses are a common cause of viral gastroenteritis. Astroviruses were found in association with gastroenteritis more frequently than were enteric adenoviruses, and with nearly half the frequency of rotaviruses.