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Summary

Human astroviruses (HAstV) are important human pathogens causing gastroenteritis worldwide. The increased recognition of astroviruses as the cause of sporadic outbreaks of disease is due to the recent availability of improved diagnostic methods. During the last decade, most epidemiological surveys have chosen astrovirus-specific RT-PCR as screening methods. In addition to serotyping by molecular techniques, new typing methods are being developed that may also identify other viral properties related to virulence. The information provided by different typing assays is required for a better understanding of both the antigenic diversity and the molecular mechanisms of pathogenicity.