Noroviruses (NoV) have been shown to be an important cause of morbidity and mortality in children worldwide, only second after Group A rotaviruses (RVA). In Paraguay, acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is the third cause of mortality in children ≤5 years old.
To analyze the presence and diversity of NoV in Paraguayan children ≤5 years old presenting AGE.
Three hundred seventy eight fecal samples, negative for pathogenic bacteria and RVA, were collected from children admitted as ambulatory and hospitalized patients in a large private hospital from Asuncion, Paraguay from 2004 to 2005. The presence and diversity of NoV was determined by two different RT-PCR strategies and nucleotide sequencing.
One hundred and sixty one samples were positive for NoV by partial amplification of the viral polymerase gene (RdRp). No seasonality or differences in the viral prevalence for the different age-groups were detected. GII and GI NoVs were associated to 58% and 42% of the infections, respectively. The genotype was determined in 18% (29/161) NoV-positive samples. The genotypes detected were: GII.4 (18%), GII.17 (18%), GII.6 (14%), GII.7 (14%), GII.3 (10%), GII.5 (3%), GII.8 (3%), GII.16 (3%), GI.3 (14%) and GI.8 (3%). Amplification of the ORF2 from the GII.4 strains showed the presence of a new GII.4 variant.
The results showed a continuous circulation of NoV in children throughout the two years of study and an extensive diversity of genotypes co-circulating, highlighting the need for better surveillance of NoV in Paraguayan children.