Human picobirnaviruses characterised in this study were serendipitously detected in a non-bacterial gastroenteritis outbreak when specimens were examined for the presence of human rotaviruses using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Often stool samples sent for virological examination, two, three, and one specimens were positive for human caliciviruses, picobirnaviruses, and both viruses, respectively. Partial sequences of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene were determined for three picobirnavirus- positive samples. The sequence identity among these three strains was 60% to 65% for the nucleic acid and 64% to 70% for the deduced amino acid sequences. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that each of the three strains clustered with strains identified in geographically separate areas. In contrast, human calicivirus strains co-incidentally identified, showed complete nucleotide sequence identity. These findings demonstrate a lack of common exposure to or point of source for picobirnavirus infection, suggesting that the outbreak was caused by human caliciviruses. Further studies are needed to determine the etiologic role and to establish the taxonomic basis of picobirnaviruses.
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