BACKGROUND : The epidemiology of human astroviruses (HAstVs) in hospitalised patients less than 5 years of age from selected sites in South Africa was investigated. Diarrheagenic stool specimens collected from April 2009 to May 2014 were screened retrospectively for selected viruses, bacteria and parasites.
METHOD : Patient data were analysed to identify epidemiologic factors most frequently detected with HAstV infections. The following case‐comparisons were investigated; HAstV‐positive and HAstV‐negative children, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)‐infected and HIV‐uninfected (HAstV‐positive) children and HIV‐exposed and unexposed (HAstV‐positive HIV‐uninfected) children.
RESULTS : Astrovirus was identified in 7.0% (234/3340) of cases and most frequently in ages 7 to 12 months (9.2%; 90/975) compared with 5.8% to 6.6% in other 6‐month age groups. No seasonal trends were observed. More HAstVs were detected in children from homes that used outdoor water sources (7.6%) compared to indoor sources [5.7%; adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1‐2.1; P = 0.009]. Astroviruses were detected in 8.4% (67/799) of HIV‐uninfected patients that were exposed to HIV compared with 5.9% (74/1257) of HIV‐unexposed patients ( P = 0.032).
CONCLUSION : Astroviruses were most prevalent in children aged 7 to 12 months and were detected throughout the study period. The study was limited as only hospitalised patients were investigated and no comparisons were made to diarrhoea‐free control groups. Future HAstV surveillance should include community‐based studies and children presenting at outpatient facilities.