Background and Aims Group A rotaviruses are a major cause of severe acute gastroenteritis (AGE) in children under 5 years of age worldwide. The purpose of this study was to estimate the proportion of rotavirus gastroenteritis and identify its determinants among children admitted to Tunisian hospitals.
Methods We set up active rotavirus hospitalization surveillance in 10 Tunisian cities. From May 2009 through October 2010, we enrolled 550 children < 5 years of age who were hospitalized with a diagnosis of AGE. Stool samples were obtained for rotavirus testing and genotype investigation using ELISA and multiplex RT-PCR.
Results The prevalence of rotavirus infection was 27.3% (95% CI 23.6–31). Infants < 2 years of age were most frequently affected (91.6%). The most dominant rotavirus genotype was G3P, which accounted for 40.4% of cases. On multivariate analysis, rotavirus was significantly associated with the episode occurring in the winter season (aOR 6.73; 95% CI 3.45–3.31), vomiting (aOR 3.05; 95% CI 1.37–6.75), fever (aOR 1.84; 95% CI 1.10–3.07) and dehydration (aOR 8.20; 95% CI 3.45–19.47).
Conclusion The determination of rotavirus infection prevalence and its risk factors will help us to better understand the epidemiology of the disease in our country in order to develop effective preventive measures, including vaccines.