Genetic characterisation of Norovirus strains in outpatient children from rural communities of Vhembe district / South Africa, 2014-2015

Jean Pierre Kabue, Emma Meader, Paul R. Hunter, Natasha Potgieter

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Background: Norovirus (NoV) is now the 24 most common causes of both outbreaks and sporadic non-bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. However, data supporting the role of NoV in diarrheal disease are limited in the African continent.

Objectives: This study investigates the distribution of NoV genotypes circulating in outpatient children from rural communities of Vhembe district / South Africa.

Study design: Stool specimens were collected from children under five years of age with diarrhea, and controls without diarrhea, between July 2014 and April 2015. NoV positive samples, detected previously by Realtime PCR, were analysed using conventional RT-PCR targeting the partial capsid and polymerase genes. Nucleotide sequencing methods were performed to genotype the strains.

Results: The sequence analyses demonstrated multiple NoV genotypes including GI.4 (13.8%), GI.5 (6.9%), GII.14 (6.9%), GII.4 (31%), GII.6 (3.4%), GII.P15 (3.4%), GII.P21 (3.4%) and GII.Pe (31%). The most prevalent NoV genotypes were GII.4 Sydney 2012 variants (n=7) among the capsid genotypes, GII.Pe (n=9) among the polymerase genotypes and GII.Pe/GII.4 Sydney 2012 (n=8) putative recombinants among the RdRp/Capsid genotypes. Two unassigned GII.4 variants were found.

Conclusions: The findings highlighted NoV genetic diversity and revealed continuous pandemic spread and predominance of GII.Pe/GII.4 Sydney 2012, indicative of increased NoV activity. An unusual RdRp genotype GII.P15 and two unassigned GII.4 variants were also identified from rural settings of the Vhembe district/South Africa. NoV surveillance is warranted to help to inform investigations into NoV evolution and disease burden, and to support on-going vaccine development programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Early online date21 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • Norovirus
  • Genetic diversity
  • GII.4 variants
  • rural communities
  • Outpatient children

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