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South African Medical Journal

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Monitoring of rotavirus infection in a paediatric hospital by RNA electrophoresis

P. Bos, M. Kirsten, R.E. Cronje, A.D. Steele

Abstract


During the spring of 1987 and the autumn of 1988, stool specimens were collected from infants and young children in the paediatric unit at H. F. Verwoerd Hospital,  Pretoria, and examined for the presence of rotaviruses to assess the potential for hospital-acquired infection in the paediatric wards. Stool samples were also  collected from children admitted to the hospital for causes unrelated to gastro-enteritis to investigate the possible asymptomatic carriage of rotavirus in this population. Hospital-acquired rotavirus infection was detennined in only 9% of cases. Very little asymptomatic carriage of the virus was identified. Electrophoretic analysis of the rotavirus strains showed that the majority of the infections (20 of 42) were associated with a particular strain with a long RNA profile, while 7 minor strains co-circulated (5 with a long electrophoretype and 2 with a short one). An apparent small outbreak of nosocomial infection with a single strain was observed to occur in one of the paediatric wards during the spring and early summer.



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