Molecular Detection of Human Astrovirus in Children With Gastroenteritis, Northern Italy

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Human astroviruses have increasingly been identified and are important agents of diarrheal disease, especially in infants and young children. This article presents the real-time polymerase chain reaction TaqMan assay for the detection and quantification of human astrovirus for clinical fecal samples collected from hospitalized children with acute gastroenteritis in Piedmont (northern Italy) from December 2014 to November 2015.


A total of 159 fecal specimens from hospitalized children with acute gastroenteritis, previously screened for rotavirus, adenovirus, norovirus, human parechovirus, salivirus and sapovirus, were tested for human astrovirus.


The most commonly detected virus was norovirus GII (33.8%), followed by rotavirus (21.3%), sapovirus (10.9%), human parechovirus (8%), norovirus GI (6.7%), adenovirus (1%) and salivirus (0.52%). A total of 30 of 159 (18.87%) episodes of acute gastroenteritis were associated with human astrovirus genomic detection.


Our data showed that the detection rate of astrovirus in diarrheal children (18.87%) was higher than observed in other countries, where they were reported in diarrheal children in 10.3%–0.8% of patients and a mean incidence worldwide of 11%. Our data showed that the detection rate of astrovirus in pediatric gastroenteritis was greater than previously reported in Italy.

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