The Reoviridae Virus Family: Structure, Transmission, and Disease

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  • 0:05 The Reoviridae Virus Family
  • 0:28 Reoviridae Structure…
  • 1:18 The Rotavirus
  • 2:50 Bluetongue Disease and…
  • 5:14 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
In this lesson, we'll delve into the number one cause of severe diarrhea in children, a weird-sounding disease called bluetongue disease, and something known as the Colorado tick fever virus as we explore the viruses and disease of the Reoviridae virus family.

The Reoviridae Virus Family

Down in Rio - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that is - life is beautiful: wonderful weather, beautiful beaches, and great people. When you hear of Rio, you don't think about diarrhea, rashes, or fever too much unless you had a bad experience. But, that's only because we're not talking about the same Rio. I'm talking about the real Reo, as in the Reoviridae virus family.

Reoviridae Structure and Transmission

This virus family has a double-stranded RNA genome housed within an icosahedral capsid. They are not enveloped viruses and hence are more resistant to environmental destruction in comparison to enveloped viruses. The viruses in this family are transmitted in a number of different ways. Some of them are transmitted through the orofecal route - that is to say by way of food, hands, or objects contaminated with virus-laden feces. Other viruses are transmitted when animals, including humans, are bitten by something like a tick or a mosquito. This is known as arthropod transmission. Since they use an arthropod vector for transmission purposes, some of the viruses in this family are therefore known as arboviruses.

The Rotavirus

One nasty virus of this family is known as the rotavirus. This is a virus that causes viral gastroenteritis and is the number-one cause of severe diarrhea in children and infants all over the world. It's easy to remember what the rotavirus is responsible for. If you've ever had the stomach flu that caused vomiting and diarrhea, and I think you have, then it feels like your gut and stomach is churning, twisting, and rotating all over the place. Well, remember that rotavirus rotates and churns your organs around like crazy, making you expel things out of both ends of your body.

The problem with rotavirus is that it can cause life-threatening dehydration if not taken care of, especially in infants. And, I know what you're thinking: 'I've heard it all before; a lot of viruses can cause diarrhea and dehydration.' But, in this case, 500,000 children die all over the world due to this virus each and every single year. It's that serious. Since this virus uses the orofecal route to spread around to other people, it's therefore critical to wash your hands, food, and any toys you come into contact with in order to minimize the spread of this virus. As an added measure of protection, there are some very effective vaccines available for preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis.

Bluetongue Disease and Colorado Tick Fever

Besides rotaviral diarrhea, one very famous disease that is of economic importance in this family is called bluetongue disease. No, this isn't something you get after munching on blue lollipops during Carnival down in Rio; however, the very first cases of this virus in South America were discovered there! This is a disease spread by a midge that causes vesicular lesions and high mortality rates in ruminants. Ruminants include animals such as deer, sheep, cattle and goats, and the vesicular lesions they get are basically really nasty blisters and ulcers of sorts.

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