The global threat of (re)emerging infectious viruses requires a more effective approach regarding virus surveillance and diagnostic assays, as current diagnostics are often virus species specific and not able to detect highly divergent or unknown viruses. A systematic exploration of viruses that infect humans is the key to effectively counter the potential public health threat caused by new and emerging infectious diseases. The human gut is a known reservoir of a wide variety of microorganisms, including viruses. In this study, Dutch clinical diarrhea samples for which no etiological agent could be identified by available cell culture, serological, or nucleic acid-based tests were gathered. Large-scale molecular RNA virus screening based on host nucleic acid depletion, sequence-independent amplification, and sequencing of partially purified viral RNA from a limited number of clinical diarrhea samples revealed four eukaryotic virus species. Among the detected viruses were a rhinovirus and a new picobirnavirus variant. In total, ∼20% of clinical diarrhea samples contained human picobirnavirus sequences. The Dutch picobirnaviruses belonged to different phylogenetic clades and did not group with other picobirnaviruses according to year of isolation or host species. Interestingly, the average age of patients infected with picobirnavirus was significantly higher than that of uninfected patients. Our data show that sequence-independent amplification of partially purified viral RNA is an efficient procedure for identification of known and highly divergent new RNA viruses in clinical diarrhea samples. Copyright,
Journal of Clinical Microbiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Leeuwen, M., Williams, M., Koraka, P., Simon, J., Smits, S., & Osterhaus, A. (2010). Human picobirnaviruses identified by molecular screening of diarrhea samples. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 48(5), 1787–1794. doi:10.1128/JCM.02452-09