Background: The majority of neonatal rotavirus infections are believed to be asymptomatic, and protection from subsequent infection and disease has been reported in neonatally infected children. In this study, we present the results of a 4-year prospective surveillance in the neonatal nurseries of a tertiary care hospital in south India.
Methods: Stool samples from neonates admitted for >48 hours either with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms or with nonenteric pathology were screened for rotavirus. Careful assessment of clinical data was carried out. G- and P-typing for all symptomatic rotavirus positive cases and equal number of asymptomatic controls from the same month was determined by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Rotavirus was detected in 43.9% of 1411 neonates, including those with and without gastrointestinal disease. Rotavirus detection was significantly higher among neonates with GI disease (55.5%) than asymptomatic neonates (44.4%) (P < 0.001). Rotavirus was seen in association with diarrhea, vomiting, feed intolerance, necrotizing enterocolitis, hematochezia, gastroesophageal reflux, and abdominal distension. Diarrhea was significantly more frequent in neonates with rotavirus infection (P < 0.001) whereas uninfected neonates developed significantly more feeding intolerance (P < 0.001). Significantly greater proportion of term neonates with GI disease were positive for rotavirus than preterm neonates (P < 0.001). G10P was the most common genotype associated with both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections.
Conclusions: This study documents the high rates of rotavirus infection in the neonatal nurseries and the continuing detection of the G10P strain associated with GI disease in Vellore.