Seasonality and diversity of Group A rotaviruses in Europe

Acta Paediatr Suppl. 1999 Jan;88(426):14-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1999.tb14320.x.


Group A rotaviruses are a major cause of severe gastroenteritis in children under 4 y of age worldwide. Group A rotaviruses have been identified in many animal and bird species, they are antigenically complex, and multiple serotypes infect humans. Re-assortant rotavirus vaccines are now available which confer protection against severe illness due to rotavirus serotypes G1-4. Before vaccines are introduced it is necessary to establish the diversity of rotavirus in the target population to ensure efficacy and to establish a baseline for future surveillance strategies. The purpose of this review is to describe our current knowledge of the diversity of rotaviruses across Europe. Since multinational studies with standardized methodology have not been performed, this review is based on the available published studies. In Europe, more than 90% of Group A rotavirus strains that have been typed are of serotypes G1-4, with an average 8% of non-G1-4 strains in published studies. The percentage of non-typeable strains may fluctuate from one year to another, and has been as high as 18% in one study in Great Britain, indicating the need for a more systematic study. Group A rotavirus infection typically occurs as a winter peak in the European countries studied. Comparison of seasonality data from national laboratory surveillance systems showed seasonal differences, with the annual rotavirus peak occurring first in Spain, usually in December, followed by France in February, and ending in Northern Europe in England and Wales in February or March, and the Netherlands and Finland in March.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis / virology
  • Humans
  • Rotavirus / classification*
  • Rotavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Seasons*
  • Serotyping