Virologic features of an astrovirus diarrhea outbreak in a day care center revealed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction

J Infect Dis. 1995 Dec;172(6):1437-44. doi: 10.1093/infdis/172.6.1437.


Astroviruses cause outbreaks of diarrhea in children attending day care centers (DCCs). Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was compared with EIA detection of astrovirus in stool specimens to characterize further the molecular epidemiology of an outbreak of astrovirus-associated gastroenteritis. Three hundred sixty-eight stool specimens collected prospectively from 36 children enrolled in a DCC during an 11-week outbreak of diarrhea were evaluated by EIA and RT-PCR. Astrovirus was detected in 32% of specimens by RT-PCR versus 10% by EIA (P < .001) and in 89% of children by RT-PCR versus 50% by EIA. The median duration of astrovirus excretion episodes detected by EIA was 1.5 days versus 4 days by RT-PCR (P = .06). Astrovirus was excreted for prolonged periods by immunocompetent children during this outbreak. RT-PCR was more sensitive than EIA for detection of astrovirus in stool specimens and redefined the epidemiology of astrovirus infection in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Base Sequence
  • Child Day Care Centers*
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Feces / virology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mamastrovirus / genetics
  • Mamastrovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology*


  • RNA, Viral