Introduction. In 1969, Mebus reported the experimental production of diarrhoea in colostrum-deprived calves by inoculation of faecal material from field cases. Bacteria cultured from the faeces of diarrhoeic calves did not cause disease, whereas bacteria-free faecal filtrates did. The condition was transmitted when the inoculum was administered orally, given as an aerosol spray, or injected directly into the duodenum. Numerous virus-like particles approx. 65 nm in diameter were present in diarrhoeic faeces. Further characterization of this virus showed that it was similar to the reovirus group in its morphology and some of its chemical properties, but was serologically unrelated to reovirus types 1 and 3 (Welch, 1971; Fernelius 1972; Welch & Twiehaus, 1973).

This work received comparatively little attention until electron microscopic examination of biopsy material from children with acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis revealed the presence of orbivirus-like particles within epithelial cells of the duodenal mucosa (Bishop 1973).


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