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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2014 Jan;33 Suppl 1:S45-8. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000000050.

Epidemiologic and genotypic characteristics of rotavirus strains detected in children less than 5 years of age with gastroenteritis treated at 3 pediatric hospitals in Zimbabwe during 2008-2011.

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From the *Department of Medical Microbiology, Virology Section, University of Zimbabwe; †Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Welfare; ‡WHO country office, Harare, Zimbabwe; §WHO Regional Office for Africa, (WHO/AFRO), Brazzaville, Congo Republic; ¶Medical Research Council/UL Diarrhoeal Pathogens Research Unit and WHO Rotavirus Regional Reference Laboratory for Africa, University of Limpopo Medunsa Campus and National Health Laboratory Service, Pretoria, South Africa; ‖Chitungwiza Central Hospital, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe; **Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals; and ††Harare Central Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe.



In anticipation of rotavirus vaccine introduction, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health initiated rotavirus surveillance in 2008 to describe the rotavirus epidemiological trends and circulating genotypes among children <5 years of age.


Active hospital-based surveillance for diarrhea was conducted at 3 sentinel sites from January 2008 to December 2011. Children aged <5 years, who presented with acute gastroenteritis as a primary illness and who were admitted to a hospital ward or treated at the emergency unit, were enrolled in the surveillance program and had a stool specimen collected and tested for rotavirus by enzyme immunoassay. Genotyping of a sample of positive specimens was performed using reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.


A total of 3728 faecal samples were collected and tested during the 4 year surveillance period and 1804 (48.5%) tested rotavirus positive. The highest prevalence of rotavirus diarrhea was found during the dry, cool season. Rotavirus positivity peaked in children 3-17 months of age with almost 80% of cases. Compared with rotavirus-negative cases, rotavirus-positive cases were more likely to be dehydrated (26% vs. 14%, P ≤ 0.001) and have vomiting (77% vs. 57%, P ≤ 0.001) and less likely to have fever (17% vs. 24%, P = 0.03). G9P[8] (43.3%), G1P[8] (11.8%), G2P[4] (8.7%), G2P[6] (8.7%) and G12P[6] (8.7%) were the most common genotypes detected.


Rotavirus causes a significant disease burden among children <5 years of age in Zimbabwe. This active surveillance system can serve as a platform to monitor the impact of rotavirus vaccine on disease burden following vaccine introduction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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