Human astrovirus among hospitalized children under five years of age with acute diarrhea in Basrah, Iraq


Background: Human astrovirus are considered as a common cause of infantile gastroenteritis worldwide. The importance of astrovirus in the area is not well recognized. Objectives: The study is designed to determine the frequency and importance of astrovirus in childhood gastroenteritis and to investigate the most affected age group, the predominant clinical symptoms associated with astrovirus infection.Subjects and methods: A total of 400 stool specimens (200 from symptomatic and 200 from asymptomatic healthy children) were collected during 2011-2012 and the relevant informations were obtained on special questionnaire form. Astrovirus nucleic acid was extracted from stool specimens using a spin column technique according to the instruction given by QIAamp-Mini-Elute virus spin kit for purification of virus-RNA (Qiagen-Germany). Astrovirus was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using specific primers; Mono269-F and Mono270-R of human astrovirus. Results: Astrovirus was detected in 2.6% of acute diarrheal cases, while asymptomatic control group were all negative for astrovirus. Age group analysis revealed that astrovirus infection was more frequent among children with age of 1- < 3 years (P < 0.05). Most of astrovirus cases were observed during winter months (January and February). The dominant clinical symptoms among astrovirus infected cases were vomiting (80%), fever (60%) and dehydration and abdominal pain was found in 40% for both respectively. Conclusion: Astrovirus is frequent among children with acute diarrhea and should be taken in consideration as a causative agent in childhood gastroenteritis.