Epidemiology and Infection

Research Article

A three-year diagnostic and epidemiological study on viral infantile diarrhoea in Rome

G. Donellia1, F. M. Ruggeria1, A. Tinaria1, M. L. Marzianoa1, D. Menichellaa2, D. Caionea2, C. Concatoa2, G. Rocchia3 and S. Vellaa3

a1 Laboratorio di Ultrastrutture, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome

a2 Ospedale del Bambino Gesù, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, 00165 Rome

a3 Clinica Medica III, Università ‘La Sapienza’, Viale Regina Elena, 00161 Rome, Italy


Rotavirus infection was demonstrated in 168 (29·3%) of 573 children hospitalized for acute diarrhoea in Rome between January 1982 and December 1984. Laboratory diagnosis of these infections was made by transmission electron microscopy and enzyme immunoassay techniques with an overall agreement of 91·3%. Astroviruses, adenoviruses and small round viruses were detected in the faeces of 36 patients (6·4%). Whereas in 1982 rotavirus positive patients were clustered in the winter and following spring, in the following years cases were recorded all year round. The median age of patients with rotavirus infections was 17, 10 and 11·5 months in 1982, 1983 and 1984, respectively. In addition, a smaller number of rotavirus positive cases were admitted in 1983 when compared to those admitted during the previous as well as the subsequent years. It is suggested that a herd immunity was induced in the population by epidemic spread of rotavirus in the first half of 1982.

(Accepted May 15 1987)