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Emerg Microbes Infect. 2019;8(1):613-623. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2019.1603791.

Detection of dicistroviruses RNA in blood of febrile Tanzanian children.

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a Division of Infectious Diseases and Laboratory of Virology , University of Geneva Hospitals Geneva , Switzerland.
b University of Geneva Medical School Geneva , Switzerland.
c Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine , Lausanne University Hospital Lausanne , Switzerland.
d Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics Geneva , Switzerland.
e Global Health Institute, School of Life Sciences , École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Lausanne , Switzerland.
f Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute , University of Basel Basel , Switzerland.
g Ifakara Health Institute , Dar es Salaam , Tanzania.
h Amana Hospital , Dar es Salaam , Tanzania.
i Infectious Diseases Service , Lausanne University Hospital Lausanne , Switzerland.
j Mwananyamala Hospital , Dar es Salaam , Tanzania.
k iGE3 Genomics Platform , University of Geneva Geneva , Switzerland.
l Department of Genetic Medicine and Development , Faculty of Medicine of Geneva Geneva , Switzerland.
m Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology , Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine Hamburg , Germany.
n German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) , Hamburg , Germany.
o Division of Tropical Medicine, 1st Department of Medicine , University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf Hamburg , Germany.
p Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine , Medical Center of the University of Munich (LMU) Munich , Germany.
q National Institute for Medical Research , Tanga Research Centre , Tanga , Tanzania.
r Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases Geneva , Switzerland.


Fever is the leading cause of paediatric outpatient consultations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although most are suspected to be of viral origin, a putative causative pathogen is not identified in over a quarter of these febrile episodes. Using a de novo assembly sequencing approach, we report the detection (15.4%) of dicistroviruses (DicV) RNA in sera collected from 692 febrile Tanzanian children. In contrast, DicV RNA was only detected in 1/77 (1.3%) plasma samples from febrile Tanzanian adults, suggesting that children could represent the primary susceptible population. Estimated viral load by specific quantitative real-time RT-PCR assay ranged from < 1.32E3 to 1.44E7 viral RNA copies/mL serum. Three DicV full-length genomes were obtained, and a phylogenetic analyse on the capsid region showed the presence of two clusters representing tentative novel genus. Although DicV-positive cases were detected throughout the year, a significantly higher positivity rate was observed during the rainy season. This study reveals that novel DicV RNA is frequently detected in the blood of Tanzanian children, paving the way for further investigations to determine if DicV possibly represent a new agent in humans.


Dicistrovirus; Tanzanian children; de novo analysis; sera; viremia

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