A Comparison of Pathogen Detection and Risk Factors among Symptomatic Children with Gastroenteritis Compared with Asymptomatic Children in the Post-rotavirus Vaccine Era.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.113551


OBJECTIVE: To describe demographics, pathogen distribution/seasonality, and risk factors in children seeking care for acute gastroenteritis (AGE) at a midwestern US emergency department during 5 postrotavirus vaccine years (2011-2016), and further, to compare the same data with matched healthy controls (HC).

STUDY DESIGN: AGE and HC participants≥3 diarrhea episodes or ≥1 vomiting episode. Each HC's age was similar to an AGE participant's age. Pathogens were analyzed for seasonality effects. Participant risk factors for AGE illness and pathogen detections were compared between HC and a matched subset of AGE cases.

RESULTS: One or more organisms was detected in 1159 of 2503 children (46.3%) with AGE compared with 99 of 537 HC (17.3%). Norovirus was detected most frequently among AGE (n = 568 [22.7%]) and second-most frequently in HC (n = 39 [6.8%]). Rotavirus was the second most frequently detected pathogen among AGE (n = 196 [7.8%]). Children with AGE were significantly more likely to have reported a sick contact compared with HC, both outside the home (15.6% vs 1.4%; P < .001) and inside the home (18.6% vs 2.1%; P < .001). Daycare attendance was higher among children with AGE (41.4%) compared with HC (29.5%; P < .001). The Clostridium difficile detection rate was slightly higher among HC (7.0%) than AGE (5.3%).

CONCLUSIONS: Norovirus was the most prevalent pathogen among children with AGE. Norovirus was detected in some HC, suggesting potential asymptomatic shedding among HC. The proportion of AGE participants with a sick contact was approximately 10 times greater than that of HC.

Journal Title

The Journal of pediatrics



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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Child; Infant; Rotavirus Vaccines; Rotavirus Infections; Gastroenteritis; Rotavirus; Norovirus; Feces; Risk Factors


norovirus; pediatric gastroenteritis; rotavirus

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