Nigerian Journal of Medicine

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Rotavirus Infection in Four States in North-western Nigeria

M Aminu, AA Ahmad, JU Umoh


Background: Rotaviruses are associated with ~ 611,000 deaths worldwide and with 33,000 deaths in Nigeria in children < 5 years of age annually. However, limited data
exit on rotavirus (RV) infection in North-western Nigeria. This study surveyed RV infection in four states in Northwestern Nigeria. Methods: During July 2002 to July 2004, 1063 (869
diarrhoeic and 194 control) stool samples were collected from children <5 years of age presenting with diarrhoea in clinics/hospitals in Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara
States. The stools were analysed for RV antigen and the RV positive stools were further characterized by antigenic and genomic methods. Results: Rotavirus was detected in 18% of children with diarrhoea and in 7.2% of the age-matched case controls. Rotavirus antigen was detected more frequently in Kaduna state (p > 0.05). The highest RV burden was
detected in children aged below six months. The infection occurred throughout the study period. The most common clinical features associated with RV were fever (71%),
vomiting (64.1%) and a combination of fever and vomiting (48.2%). Vomiting was strongly associated with RV (p < 0.01). There was a statistically significant association between food type and rotavirus infection (p < 0.05), with the highest prevalence occurring amongst children exclusively breast-fed. The majority of the RV positive samples revealed long electropherotypes and VP6 subgroup I + II specificity. Conclusion: Rotavirus was shown to be an important cause of diarrhoea in children 0-5 years of age in Northwestern Nigeria. An effective vaccine would therefore need to be administered at birth for children in the study
area since there is no effective way to completely eliminate rotavirus infection other than vaccination. There is also a need for additional studies in Nigeria to provide data required to hasten vaccine introduction.

Nigerian Journal of Medicine Vol. 17 (3) 2008: pp. 285-290
AJOL African Journals Online