Genetic characterization of norovirus strains in hospitalized children from Pakistan

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Norovirus is one of the most common causes of acute gastroenteritis among children in developing countries. No data on the prevalence and genetic variability of norovirus are available for Pakistan, where early childhood mortality due to acute gastroenteritis is common. We tested 255 fecal specimens from children under 5 years of age hospitalized between April 2006 and March 2008 with severe acute gastroenteritis in five hospitals in the four largest cities in Pakistan for norovirus by real-time RT-PCR. Positive samples were further genotyped by conventional RT-PCR targeting the 5'-end of the capsid gene followed by sequencing of the positive PCR products. Overall, 41 (16.1%) samples tested positive for norovirus with an equal frequency in rotavirus-positive and rotavirus-negative samples. Nine (22%) samples were genogroup (G)I positive, 30 (73%) GII positive and two (5%) samples contained a mixture of GI and GII viruses. Sequence analyses demonstrated co-circulation of 14 norovirus genotypes including four GI genotypes (GI.3, GI.5, GI.7, GI.8) and 10 GII genotypes (GII.2, GII.3, GII.4, GII.5, GII.6, GII.7, GII.9, GII.13, GII.16, and GII.21). The most prevalent genotypes were GI.7 and GII.4 both causing 12.2% of the infections. This report confirms the presence of multiple norovirus genotypes in hospitalized children with acute gastroenteritis in Pakistan and a lack of clear predominance of GII.4 viruses.


Journal of Medical Virology