Detection of rotaviruses in the day care environment by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction

J Infect Dis. 1992 Sep;166(3):507-11. doi: 10.1093/infdis/166.3.507.


Group A rotavirus is an important cause of morbidity among infants and toddlers in day care centers. Transmission by the fecal-oral route is well established, but fomites and environmental surfaces may also play an important role in transmission. A highly sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was used to detect rotavirus RNA in day care environments. Areas sampled included floors, diaper change areas, toy balls, and other surfaces. In two centers undergoing outbreaks of rotavirus, 7 (39%) of 18 toy balls had detectable rotavirus as did 8 (21%) of 39 swabs from environmental surfaces. By comparison, only 1 (5%) of 21 toy balls and 1 (2%) of 44 environmental surface swabs had detectable rotavirus in centers without rotavirus outbreaks (P = .0001). Thus, rotaviruses are highly prevalent in day care centers during outbreaks of diarrhea. The monitoring of environments by sensitive nucleic acid amplification techniques may lead to strategies for the diminution of disease transmission within the day care environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Child Day Care Centers*
  • DNA, Viral
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / microbiology*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Rotavirus / genetics
  • Rotavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Rotavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Rotavirus Infections / microbiology*
  • Texas / epidemiology


  • DNA, Viral
  • RNA-Directed DNA Polymerase