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J Med Virol. 2005 Jan;75(1):170-3.

Changing epidemiology of rotavirus G-types circulating in Hong Kong, China.

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  • 1Virology Division, 9/F Public Health Laboratory Services Branch, Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Shek Kip Mei, Hong Kong, China.


Group A rotaviruses are the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in young children worldwide. The development of a vaccine is advocated by the World Health Organization. Obtaining local baseline information regarding rotavirus strain variation is important to ensure matching of circulating and vaccine strains. The current study was undertaken to determine the epidemiology of rotavirus G-types in Hong Kong in anticipation of a vaccination program. From 2001 to 2002 over a period of one year, diarrhoeal stool specimens known to be positive for rotavirus were subjected to G-typing by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction using nested type-specific primers. Rotavirus G-type distribution was correlated with patient demographics. Among 747 rotavirus positive stool specimens, 723 strains could be G-typed as G1 (302, 40.4%), G2 (128, 17.1%), G3 (231, 30.9%), G4 (24, 3.2%), and G9 (38, 5.1%). G1 strains were found predominantly in those 5 years old or younger (P < 0.0001), while G2 strains were more prevalent among those over 5 years of age (P < 0.001). When compared with similar studies in 1983 to 1984 and 1999 to 2000, there were significant changes in the prevalence of various G-types, with consistent detection of G9 strains in the current study. It is concluded that rotavirus G-type distribution in Hong Kong has varied with time. Continuous monitoring of the epidemiology of rotavirus is important, especially in anticipation of the introduction of a vaccine, in order to document its impact and to ensure its continued effectiveness.

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