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J Med Virol. 2005 Jun;76(2):265-7.

Viraemia is a common finding in immunocompetent children with rotavirus infection.

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Division of Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases, Department of Paediatrics, University of Florence, Italy.


Rotavirus infection is usually localized to the intestine but involvement of extra-intestinal sites, including the respiratory tract, liver, kidney, lymph nodes, and central nervous system, has been reported. The extra-intestinal spread of the virus may occur through blood since viraemia has been documented occasionally in animals and humans. Nevertheless, the questions of how common viraemia is in immunocompetent children and whether it is associated with extra-intestinal manifestations remain unsolved. Serum samples from 54 immunocompetent children hospitalized for acute diarrhea were evaluated prospectively for the presence of rotavirus RNA by nested reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to investigate this issue. Rotavirus antigens were detected in the stools of 14 children. A bacterial aetiology was documented in 14 cases, and in the remaining cases the aetiology remained unknown. Rotavirus RNA was detected in the blood of 9/14 (64.3%) rotavirus infected children but in no child with diarrhea of other origin. Positive RT-PCR was associated with high fever and/or evidence of extra-intestinal involvement. All positive samples were collected within 3 days of illness onset, suggesting that viraemia was detectable for only a few days. Children in whom rotavirus was detected only in stool samples had high fever but no other extra-intestinal feature. These data suggest that viraemia is common in children infected with rotavirus, which may be associated with extra-intestinal involvement.

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