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Rotavirus Present in Blood of Most Infected Children

Antigens and infectious virus found, independent of diarrhea

TUESDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Most children with gastroenteritis and rotavirus-positive stools have rotavirus antigens and infectious virus in the blood that is independent of the presence of diarrhea, according to a study published online April 16 in PLoS Medicine.

Margaret E. Conner, Ph.D., from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues tested serum for rotavirus antigens in 98 children with gastroenteritis (57 stool rotavirus-positive and 41 rotavirus-negative); 75 children with bronchiolitis (58 of known viral etiology, 17 of unknown etiology); 17 children with non-infectious and non-chronic conditions; and 28 healthy adults.

The researchers found rotavirus antigens in 90 percent of children with rotavirus-positive stools, 12 percent of children with rotavirus-negative stools, 89 percent of children with rotavirus-positive stools without diarrhea, and 12 percent of children with bronchiolitis of unknown etiology without gastroenteritis. No antigen was found in the sera of the other groups. Infectious virus was detected in all 11 antigen-positive sera tested compared with only 22 percent (2 of 9) antigen-negative sera tested.

The study "challenges the view that the virus is confined to the upper small intestine in children with rotavirus diarrhea," wrote David C.A. Candy, M.D., from the Royal West Sussex National Health Service Trust in Chichester, United Kingdom, in an accompanying editorial.

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