Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Emergence of unusual human rotavirus strains in Salento, Italy, during 2006–2007

Antonella De Donno1, Tiziana Grassi1, Francesco Bagordo1, Adele Idolo1, Alessandra Cavallaro2, Giovanni Gabutti2* and the Collaborative Group for the surveillance of Rotavirus Infection

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, Lab of Hygiene, University of Salento, via prov.le Lecce-Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy

2 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Hygiene and Occupational Health, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-43

Published: 15 April 2009



In recent years, rotavirus genotyping by RT-PCR has provided valuable information about the diversity of rotaviruses (RV) circulating throughout the world.

The purpose of the present study was to monitor the prevalence of the different G and P genotypes of rotaviruses circulating in Salento and detect any uncommon or novel types.


During the period from January 2006 to December 2007, a total of 243 rotavirus positive stool samples were collected from children with diarrhoea admitted to four Hospitals in the province of Lecce (Copertino, Galatina, Gallipoli and Tricase).

All the specimens were tested for RV by real time PCR and genotyped for VP7 (G-type) and VP4 (P-type) gene by reverse transcription (RT) and multiplex PCR using different type specific primers.


In course of this study we identified 4 common G&P combinations viz. G2P[8], G1P[8], G2P[4] and G9P[8] amongst 59.8% of the typeable rotavirus positives.

Rotavirus G2P[8] was recognized as the most widespread genotype during the sentinel-based survey in Salento.

The detection of other novel and unusual strains, such as G2P[10], G4P[10], G8P[4], G9P[11] and G10P[8] is noteworthy.

Furthermore, a significant number of mixed infections were observed during the survey period but G3P[8] rotaviruses were not detected.


This study highlights the genetic diversity among rotaviruses isolated from children in Salento and the emergence of some novel strains. Therefore, it is highly essential to continuously monitor for these strains so as to assess the impact of vaccines on RV strains circulating in Salento and understand the effect of strain variation on efficacy of presently available vaccines.