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Importance Of Enteric Adenoviruses 40 And 41 In Acute Gastroenteritis In Infants And Young Children

I Uhnoo, G Wadell, L Svensson, M E Johansson

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In a prospective 1-year study of acute infantile gastroenteritis, adenoviruses were detected in the stools or by seroconversions, or both, in 56 of 416 (13.5%) ill children. By use of DNA restriction enzyme analysis, enzyme immunoassay, and culture techniques, 33 of 56 (59%) adenovirus specimens were identified as enteric adenoviruses 40 and 41 (Ad40 and Ad41). They were found as the sole recognizable cause of diarrhea in 30 of 416 (7.2%) ill children and in 0 of 200 controls. Three additional ill children had enteric adenoviruses as a part of a dual infection. Evidence for established adenoviruses (Ad1 through Ad39) in gastroenteritis was found in 15 of 416 (3.6%) ill children but also in 3 of 200 (1.5%) controls. Eight adenovirus specimens remained untyped. Seroconversions were demonstrated in 17 of 18 (94%) paired serum samples from patients shedding enteric adenoviruses. The predominant symptom of infections with enteric adenoviruses was diarrhea, with a mean duration of 8.6 days (Ad40) and 12.2 days (Ad41). One-third of the children with Ad41 infections had prolonged symptoms (greater than or equal to 14 days). The frequency of respiratory symptoms was low (21%). The established adenoviruses presented a different clinical picture, characterized by diarrhea of shorter duration, higher fever, and significantly increased occurrence of respiratory symptoms (79%). In conclusion, enteric adenoviruses appear to be an important cause of acute infantile gastroenteritis, second only to rotaviruses in this study.