Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Faecal samples were collected from patients with gastro-enteritis during two winter seasons on a paediatric ward. Three outbreaks of nosocomial rotavirus gastro-enteritis were identified by latex agglutination and the virus strains were characterized by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of the genome nucleic acid and by subgrouping and serotyping enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). One outbreak was caused by serotype 1 rotavirus, one by serotype 2 and the remaining outbreak was caused by a mixture of serotypes 1 and 4. Identical electrophoretic patterns of the rotavirus genome in each outbreak combined with the ELISA results indicate that these three outbreaks were hospital-acquired cases. The index cases in the three outbreaks were community-acquired and one of two index cases in the second outbreak was hospital-acquired. On each occasion, susceptible roommates were easily infected from the index cases and then cross-infection occurred in the paediatric ward. Possible vehicles were the medical staff, especially doctors, parents of infected patients and infected patients who were moved to other rooms. One patient who had been treated with a series of antitumour therapies excreted rotaviruses in faeces for a long time period and probably played a role as a source.of the outbreak. Moreover, some patients still excreted rotaviruses in their normal stool 1 week after recovery from gastro-enteritis. These findings indicate that continual examination of stool samples for rotaviruses until they are negative may be important to prevent the spread of rotavirus infection.
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