The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Designed and performed the experiments: AM. Contributed with reagents/ materials/samples/analysis tools: NBSA, BM, SH, NG, LB. Analyzed the data: AM, NBSA, MLR. Wrote the paper: AM, JSC, SG, MA. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Astroviruses (AstVs) are enteric viruses that can cause gastroenteritis in children. This study is part of monitoring the circulation of astroviruses in children hospitalized and/or outpatients for acute gastroenteritis at the primary care center of Ouerdanine or at the Pediatric Department of the University Hospital Fattouma-Bourguiba (Monastir, Tunisia). The aims of our study were to know the prevalence of human astrovirus in clinical samples of children, characterize the strains and evaluate the infectivity of isolated strains on cell culture.
Fifty stool samples were collected from children under five years old in the region of Monastir (Tunisia) from October 2010 to June 2011. All specimens were subjected to RT-PCR amplification followed by sequencing and phylogenetic analysis.
The study shows a low prevalence of astrovirus (4 %) in children. The two positive samples obtained were HAstV type 3. Samples that were RT-PCR positive were cultured in CaCO-2 cells and the presence of infectious viral particles was confirmed. The phylogenetic analysis shows that the different HAstV-3 strains isolated in Tunisia are grouped into two clusters. The first cluster includes strains obtained in 2004, which belong to lineage HAstV-3a, while strains isolated in 2010 belong to lineage HAstV-3c.
This study is part of monitoring the circulation of astroviruses in children younger than five years old from Monastir region, Tunisia. The results show low prevalence (4 %). All genotyped samples belonged to lineage HAstV-3c, which could be presently emerging. Two different lineages have been isolated in Tunisia: HAstV-3a in 2004 and HAstV-3c in 2010.