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Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Oct 1;33(7):932-8. Epub 2001 Aug 22.

Rotavirus and central nervous system symptoms: cause or contaminant? Case reports and review.

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Viral Gastroenteritis Section, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Rotavirus is a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. In 2 patients with rotavirus gastroenteritis who developed encephalopathy, rotavirus RNA was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction; in 1 patient, rotavirus RNA was detected on 2 occasions 3 weeks apart. There are increasing reports of cases in which patients who have seizures after an episode of rotavirus diarrhea have evidence of rotavirus in their CSF. A search of 2 large hospital discharge databases suggested that seizures are noted as part of the discharge diagnosis in the records of, at most, <4% of patients with rotavirus diarrhea versus 7% of patients with bacterial diarrhea. Although evidence suggesting that rotavirus is a cause of central nervous system sequelae remains inconclusive, the 2 case reports presented in this study further illustrate a possible association. Further study is required to determine whether detection of rotavirus in CSF represents a true pathogen, CSF contamination that occurs at the time of lumbar puncture or in the laboratory, or carriage of rotavirus RNA in trafficking lymphocytes.

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