This family includes the genera Coltivirus (causing Colorado tick fever in humans) and Orbivirus (only a few members of which are implicate in isolated cases of human disease). Other genera are Orthoreovirus (a rare cause of enteritis and upper respiratory infection in humans) and Rotavirus (a very important cause of viral gastroenteritis).
Viral gastroenteritis is a major cause of illness and death, particularly in developing countries where 5–10 million deaths from gastroenteritis, most in young children, occur annually. Rotaviruses (mainly group A) are the major cause of diarrhoeal illness in young children, accounting for 30–50% of cases admitted to hospital in developed countries, and 10-20% of deaths due to gastroenteritis in developing countries. Although infection protects against subsequent severe disease, it does not prevent reinfection. Rotavirus vaccines are urgently needed and some are in trials.
Other causes of viral gastroenteritis are enteric adenoviruses (the second most frequent cause) and Norwalk virus, caliciviruses, astroviruses and small, round, non-structured viruses (which may all cause sporadic cases or outbreaks).
The most important aspect of treatment for viral gastroenteritis is adequate fluid and electrolyte replacement, if possible by oral replacement using glucose-electrolyte solution. (The WHO recommended solution is widely used and effective.)