Who does astrovirus affect?Human astrovirus infection primarily causes gastroenteritis and affects young children worldwide. Elderly, institutionalized patients and immunocompromised individuals (such as HIV-infected patients and bone marrow transplant recipients) have also been affected by astrovirus-associated gastroenteritis.
What are the symptoms of astrovirus-related gastroenteritis?
Mild, watery diarrhea that typically lasts for 2-3 days
Constitutional symptoms that may last up to 4 days
Any other characteristics of astrovirus diarrhea?
* The incubation period typically lasts 3-4 days.
* Viral shedding may begin a day before symptoms commence and continue for several days after the cessation of diarrhea.
Some human volunteer studies of astrovirus infections have concluded that the virus is of relatively low pathogenicity in adults. Astrovirus diarrhea generally is more mild than diarrhea due to rotavirus, and significant dehydration and hospitalization does not often result. However, it may be difficult to distinguish diarrhea due to either virus based on clinical outcome. Deaths related to astrovirus infection are very rare but have been reported.
Are we immune to astrovirus after infection?
Young children and elderly, institutionalized patients are the primary "at-risk" age groups of symptomatic astrovirus infection. This reveals that although antibodies acquired in childhood may help protect against illness throughout most of one's life, immunity may wane late in life. To illustrate that the presence of antibodies is associated with protection, volunteer studies revealed that those who have serum antibody to astrovirus and are subjected to virus challenge do not develop disease.
What is the treatment?
Since astrovirus-related gastroenteritis is usually a mild, self-limiting disease, it generally does not require any specific therapy, hospitalization, extensive outpatient evaluation, or clinic visits. However, in the case where an affected individual becomes dehydrated, oral or intravenous rehydration therapy may be required.