The development of reoviridae as a family in its own right has been fairly recent. It began when Albert Sabin suggested that the viruses which had until then been classified as belonging to the echovirus 10 group be set apart as a brand new family-- this was in 1959. At this time, these viruses were not known to cause any human disease and were known to infect the gastrointestinal and respiratory cells. As described in the introductory page, the viruses were dubbed "reo" as an acronym for respiratory enteric orphan. A little more than a decade later, orbiviruses joined the reovirus family. Orbiviruses are an arthropod borne genera which were classified with the reoviruses on the basis of a distinctive, shared genome: double-stranded, segmented RNA. Rotaviruses joined the family for the same reason in the late 1970s.

Rotavirus had first been isolated from infant diarrhea by Stanley, Dorman, and Ponsford in 1951. At that time, it was not known exactly what the virus was. In 1973 human rotavirus was truly discovered as an infectious agent causing gastroenteritis when a bowel biopsy of child with the disease revealed the rotavirus in the stool.

The addition of three more genera which do not infect humans-- Cypovirus, Phytoreovirus, and Fijivirus-- completed the reoviridae family as we know it today. The viruses found in the reovirus family span the nearly the entire spectrum of viral infection, infecting mammals, birds, fish, plants, and insects. -----

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