BACKROUND: Data regarding the prevalence and molecular epidemiology of rotavirus infection in rural areas of Africa are limited. In this study the prevalence and genetic diversity of rotaviruses in a rural South African
setting were investigated.
METHODS: During June 1998 to June 2000, 420 stool specimens were collected from children with acute diarrhea
who visited primary health care clinics in the rural Vhembe region, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Group A
rotaviruses were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and the G and P types were determined by
reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.
RESLUTS: Of the 420 specimens, 111 (26.4%) were positive for group A rotavirus; PG1 strains predominated
(32.4%), followed by PG1 (13.5%), PG9 (4.5%), PG8 (3.6%), PG1 (3.6%), PG8 (3.6%), and PG2
(2.7%). Dual infections, with 11 P type, were seen in 33 (37.1%) of the positive specimens.
CONCLUSIONS: The unusual serotype and genotype combinations of rotavirus circulating in the rural communities
of the Limpopo Province highlight the need for more studies to monitor the geographic distribution of rotavirus
strains in rural African settings.