Epidemiology and Infection

Short Report

Gastroenteritis

Nationwide surveillance study of human astrovirus infections in an Italian paediatric population

S. DE GRAZIAa1 c1, V. MARTELLAa2, M. CHIRONNAa3, F. BONURAa1, F. TUMMOLOa4, A. CALDERAROa4, P. MOSCHIDOUa2, G. M. GIAMMANCOa1 and M. C. MEDICIa4

a1 Dipartimento di Scienze per la Promozione della Salute ‘G. D'Alessandro’, Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy

a2 Dipartimento di Sanità Pubblica e Zootecnia, Università Aldo Moro di Bari, Bari, Italy

a3 Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Sezione di Igiene, Università Aldo Moro di Bari, Bari, Italy

a4 Sezione di Microbiologia, Dipartimento di Patologia e Medicina di Laboratorio, Università degli studi di Parma, Parma, Italy

SUMMARY

The study investigated the genetic diversity of human astroviruses (HAstVs) detected in children hospitalized with gastroenteritis in Italy in 2008–2009. A total of 1321 faecal samples were collected in Parma (northern Italy), Bari (southern Italy), and Palermo (Sicily) and screened for the presence of HAstVs. RT–PCR amplification of a portion at the 5′-end of ORF2 allowed the detection of HAstVs in 3·95% of the patients. Four different genotypes (HAstV-1, HAstV-2, HAstV-4, HAstV-5) were found to be circulating during the study period, with HAstV-1 being the predominant type. Interestingly, a novel lineage, proposed as HAstV-2d, was found to have emerged in Parma in 2009. Investigating the genetic variability of HAstVs will be important for understanding the epidemiological trends and evolution of these viruses.

(Received January 26 2012)

(Revised April 11 2012)

(Accepted April 14 2012)

(Online publication May 17 2012)

Key words

  • Astroviruses;
  • epidemiology;
  • gastroenteritis;
  • virology (human)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr S. De Grazia, Dipartimento di Scienze per la Promozione della Salute ‘G. D'Alessandro’, Università di Palermo, via del Vespro 133, 90127 Palermo, Italy. (Email: simona.degrazia@unipa.it)

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