The size of viruses is with a few exceptions (the mimiviruses, poxviruses and some iridoviruses) below the resolution of the optical microscope. The 1000 times higher resolution of the transmission electron microscope (TEM), compared with the light microscope, allows direct observation of small virus particles. The improvement of both TEM equipment and technical procedures allows quick preparative methods and diagnosis of viruses at the family and genus level. Besides routine diagnosis this approach may prove essential to the identification of emerging pathogens in animals and humans. A review of the literature and a description of the main methods and applications of TEM to virus diagnosis and characterization are presented.
Keywords Transmission electron microscopy; virus; diagnosis
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