Astroviruses (AstVs) have been identified only occasionally in dogs. A canine AstV, strain Bari/ 08/ITA, was detected from a pup with gastroenteric signs and the virus was isolated in cell culture and characterized molecularly. In the full-length capsid protein, the virus displayed genetic similarities (83.5% aa identity) to another canine AstV strain, although a high rate of variation occurred in the hypervariable domain, which is related to AstV antigenic specificity. Specific antibodies were detected in the convalescent dog, indicating seroconversion, and in 59% of a collection of dog serum samples. Using primers specific for canine AstV, designed to detect a conserved region of ORF1b, canine AstVs were detected in 24.5% of young pups with gastroenteritis, either alone or in mixed infections with other canine pathogens. In contrast, AstVs were detected in only 9.3% of asymptomatic pups. These findings indicate that canine AstVs are common in dogs and may suggest a possible role as canine enteric pathogens.
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