Recombinant GII.g/GII.12 norovirus (NoV) strains emerged in 2008 in Australia and subsequently have been associated with gastroenteritis outbreaks worldwide. In the winter season 2009–2010 GII.12 strains caused 16% of the NoV outbreaks in the United States. During 2009–2010 we also identified GII.g/GII.12 strains during surveillance of sporadic cases of gastroenteritis in Italian children. Severity scores were calculated for the GII.g/GII.12 NoV infections using the Vesikari scale and in two out of three paediatric cases they exceeded the median value calculated for concomitant GII.4 infections. Upon sequence analysis, the Italian strains were found to be recombinant viruses and displayed different patterns of nucleotide polymorphisms. Phylodynamic analysis with other GII.g/GII.12 recombinants showed a high rate of evolution, comparable to the rates observed for GII.4 viruses. The mechanisms leading to worldwide emergence of GII.12 NoV strains in 2008–2010 are not clear. Monitoring of GII.12 NoV circulation is necessary to understand these mechanisms of evolution.
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