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PLOS ONE  2013 

Epidemiology and Genetic Diversity of Rotavirus Strains in Children with Acute Gastroenteritis in Lahore, Pakistan

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067998

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Pakistan harbors high disease burden of gastro-enteric infections with majority of these caused by rotavirus. Unfortunately, lack of proper surveillance programs and laboratory facilities have resulted in scarcity of available data on rotavirus associated disease burden and epidemiological information in the country. We investigated 1306 stool samples collected over two years (2008–2009) from hospitalized children under 5 years of age for the presence of rotavirus strains and its genotypic diversity in Lahore. The prevalence rate during 2008 and 2009 was found to be 34% (n = 447 out of 1306). No significant difference was found between different age groups positive for rotavirus (p>0.05). A subset of EIA positive samples was further screened for rotavirus RNA through RT-PCR and 44 (49.43%) samples, out of total 89 EIA positive samples, were found positive. G and P type prevalence was found as follows: G1P [4] = 3(6.81%); G1P [6] = 9(20.45%); G1P [8] = 1(2.27%); G2P [4] = 21(47.72%); G2P [8] = 1(2.27%); G9P [4] = 1(2.27%); G9P [6] = 1(2.27%) and G9P [8] = 7(15.90%). Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the VP7 and VP4 sequences clustered closely with the previously detected strains in the country as well as Belgian rotaviruses. Antigenic characterization was performed by analyzing major epitopes in the immunodominant VP7 and VP4 gene segments. Although the neutralization conferring motifs were found variable between the Pakistani strains and the two recommended vaccines strains (Rotarix? and RotaTeq?), we validate the use of rotavirus vaccine in Pakistan based on the proven and recognized vaccine efficacy across the globe. Our findings constitute the first report on rotavirus’ genotype diversity, their phylogenetic relatedness and epidemiology during the pre-vaccination era in Lahore, Pakistan and support the immediate introduction of rotavirus vaccine in the routine immunization program of the country.


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