Distribution of rotavirus VP7 and VP4 genotypes circulating in Tunisia from 2009 to 2014: Emergence of the genotype G12

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Group A rotavirus (RVA) represents the most important aetiological agent of diarrhoea in children worldwide. From January 2009 to December 2014, a multi-centre study realized through 11 Tunisian cities was undertaken among children aged <5 years consulting or hospitalized for acute gastroenteritis. A total of 1127 faecal samples were collected. All samples were screened by ELISA for the presence of RVA antigen. RVA-positive samples were further analyzed by PAGE and used for G/P-genotyping by semi-nested multiplex RT-PCR. Globally, 270 specimens (24 %) were RVA-positive, with peaks observed annually between November and March. Nine different electropherotypes could be visualized by PAGE, six with a long profile (173 cases) and two with a short one (seven cases). Mixed profiles were detected in two cases. Among the 267 VP7 genotyped strains, the predominant G- genotype was G1 (39.6 %) followed by G3 (22.2 %), G4 (13 %), G9 (11.5 %), G2 (5.2 %) and G12 (5.2 %). Among the 260 VP4 genotyped strains, P[8] genotype was the predominant (74.5 %) followed by P[6] (10.4 %) and P[4] (5.5 %). A total of 257 strains (95.2 %) could be successfully G- and P-genotyped. G1P[8] was the most prevalent combination (34.4 %), followed by G3P[8] (16.3 %), G9P[8] (10.3 %), G4P[8] (8.9 %), G2P[4] (4 %), G12P[6] (2.6 %) and G12P[8] (1.9 %). Uncommon G/Pgenotype combinations, mixed infections and untypeable strains were also detected. This is the first report, in Tunisia, of multiple detection of an emerging human RVA strain, G12 genotype. This study highlighted the need for maintaining active surveillance of emerging strains in Northern Africa.

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