Although a number of enteric viruses have been identified in children with acute gastroenteritis, the majority of cases of gastroenteritis remain undiagnosed. In order to provide more insights into the epidemiology of enteric viruses that are not included usually in routine diagnostic tests, cases of childhood sporadic gastroenteritis of unknown etiology requiring hospital admission in Parma, Italy, during 2008–2009, were screened for astrovirus (AstV), sapovirus (SaV), and bocavirus (BoV). The stools of 712 children, negative for rotavirus, norovirus, adenovirus, enterovirus, and reovirus, were examined by PCR or RT-PCR for AstV, BoV, and SaV. The prevalence of AstV, BoV, and SaV in the patients examined was 2.1%, 3.2%, 2.4%, respectively, with the viruses being detected mostly in children <3 years of age. AstV strains were characterized by sequencing as types 1, 2, and 4, with a AstV-1 peak occurring in the 2008 fall–winter season. BoV strains were characterized as types 1, 2, and 3, with BoV-3 circulating more frequently in the 2008 autumn and winter season and BoV-2 during March–April 2009. The most common SaVs were GI.2 and GII.1 while GIV and GV SaVs were detected sporadically. Overall, AstV, BoV, and SaV infections accounted for 7.7% of the sporadic cases of acute gastroenteritis with unknown etiology selected for the study. Different virus types and lineages were found to circulate and temporal peaks of virus activity were also demonstrated, suggesting either small clusters of infections or small outbreaks or epidemics in local population.
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