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Open Access Research article

Characterising the aetiology of severe acute gastroenteritis among patients visiting a hospital in Qatar using real-time polymerase chain reaction

Asma Al-Thani1*, Maide Baris1, Najah Al-Lawati1 and Said Al-Dhahry2

Author Affiliations

1 Qatar University, P.O. BOX 2713, Doha, Qatar

2 Laboratory Medicine Department, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13:329  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-329

Published: 18 July 2013



Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) remains a common cause of clinic visits and hospitalizations, though its aetiology has not been determined in Qatar.


We performed a prospective, emergency department–based study of 288 children and adults with AGE. Stool specimens were collected at presentation from June to November 2009. Faecal specimens were tested, using real-time PCR, for a panel of four viral (norovirus, adenovirus, astrovirus and rotavirus) and bacterial pathogens.


Viral and bacterial pathogens were detected in 131 (45.5%) and 34 (12.2%) of the 288 patients recruited. The most commonly detected pathogens were norovirus (28.5%), rotavirus (10.4%), followed by adenovirus (6.25%) and astrovirus (0.30%). Norovirus was the most commonly detected viral pathogen amongst all the age groups with an almost even distribution in all age groups. Rotavirus and adenovirus were more common in children under 5 yr of age. Astrovirus was found in only one person.


Viruses, especially noroviruses, are associated with severe diarrhoea in children and adults in Qatar. Further studies to confirm the findings and to explore the causes of illness among patients from whom a pathogen cannot be determined are needed.

Norovirus; Rotavirus; Adenovirus; Astrovirus; Acute gastroenteritis