Human astroviruses have been increasingly identified as important agents of diarrheal disease in children. Outbreaks of diarrhea due to astrovirus have frequently been reported and astroviruses have also been associated with nosocomial infections in hospitals. A 7-year study involving 2,490 gastroenteritis samples was conducted to determine the prevalence and age distribution of human astrovirus infection as well as the seasonality pattern in 5 different cities of Iran using reverse Transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Astrovirus was detected in 40 of 2490 specimens tested by RT-PCR, and astrovirus infection was confirmed by Southern hybridization. Detection rates were higher in winter, although astrovirus infections also occurred in summer months. The overall incidence of astrovirus was found to be 1.6%. The mean age of infected children was 14.7 months, and the median age was 15 months. Majority of the infected children were less than 2 years of age making up 36 (90%) infected children, only 4 cases of infected children were more than 2 years of age (10%). The difference between the two age groups was statistically significant (P < 0.02). Our findings provide evidence that astrovirus can be a leading cause of viral gastroenteritis infections and highlight the need to implement astrovirus detection assays in association with rapid rotavirus and adenovirus detection enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) for the clinical diagnosis and nosocomial prevention of viralgastroenteritis infections in pediatric departments.
Key words: Astrovirus, reverse Transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), gastroenteritis, pediatric, prevalence.
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