An enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for astrovirus type 1 together with immune electronmicroscopy (IBM) was used to type a collection of 162 astroviruses obtained from 1981–93 from children with diarrhoea. The EIA was found to be specific for astrovirus type 1. Astrovirus types 2–4 were typed by IEM.
Astrovirus type 1 was the prevalent serotype 107/125 (86%), followed by type 3 (8%), type 4 (6%) and type 2 (1 %). Six samples containing astrovirus could not be typed or detected by EIA because they were coated with coproantibodies; 11 others were not identified. Virus particles could no longer be detected in 15/162 (9%) samples following storage for ≥ 2 years.
Selected samples containing astrovirus types 1–4 were passaged in CaCO2 cells and their identity confirmed by one or both assays. One sample was shown to have remained viable for 10 years when stored as an aqueous suspension at −20 °C.
Two patients with severe combined immune deficiency disease (SCID) were shown to be excreting astrovirus type 1 for 32 and 102 days respectively. One child was simultaneously shedding rotavirus and the other child was excreting adenovirus.