Astrovirus: A Stomach Bug, Increasing in Severity
In contrast, the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition has recognized that a different virus and its mutation may pose a threat to our health.
Astroviruses were first discovered in humans around 50 years ago and are known to infect hosts like cats, dogs, cattle, deer and pigs. The virus typically presents in humans in the same way as the stomach flu, causing gastroenteritis and symptoms like muscle weakness and loss of balance.
Similar to COVID-19, there are different variations of the astrovirus, and Abbott researchers found a strain of the virus in a person with a fever that belonged to a genotype (MastV-Sp6Gt7) reported to cause neurological disease.
The findings, which were recently published in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections, determined that this variant of astrovirus was different from the strain that has co-evolved with humans for thousands of years.
In the study, researchers determined that the MastV-Sp6Gt7:
- Has been quickly spreading across the globe in the last 20 years
- Mutates at a higher rate than other astroviruses
- Causes severe neurologic disease in the immunocompromised
Because of this, researchers believe this variant is one we should proactively monitor, highlighting the need for diagnostics capable of detecting it.
Global Detectives for Pandemic Preparedness
Determining which viral threats could turn into new potential pandemics improves the likelihood of us being prepared for the next outbreak. By examining characteristics of different viruses — such as evolution, transmission and mutation rates — we can determine which pathogens need priority tracking, response and reactive diagnostic technology.
We can’t count every virus. But, with a team uniquely equipped to face this challenge, we can count on being well-prepared to fight the next viral outbreak.