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Rotavirus gastroenteritis in italian children: can the severity of the symptoms be related to the infecting virus?


The aim of our study was to determine whether the severity of rotavirus gastroenteritis may be related to the different characteristics of infecting viral strains. The severity of clinical symptoms in 401 children with acute rotavirus gastroenteritis was assessed using a scoring system for frequency and duration of vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, as well as the patients' requirements for intravenous rehydration. Rotavirus strains were characterized by determining the electropherotype of their double-stranded RNA, the G type and subgroup by a panel of monoclonal antibodies, and the P type by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Strains with a short electropherotype, G2P[4] type, and subgroup I were associated with more-severe gastroenteritis and affected children older than those infected with strains with a long electropherotype, G1P[8] or G4P[8] type, and subgroup II. Minor differences in clinical symptoms were also detected in children infected with different long electropherotypes and with G1P[8] and G4P[8] specificities.