Background: The purpose of the study was to investigate the frequency, morbidity and cause of acute gastroenteritis in children attending day-care centers in Denmark.
Methods: Children with acute diarrhea (> or =2 consecutive loose stools in 24 hours, with duration of < or =7 days), recruited from 19 day-care centers, were included. Gastroenteritis viruses, group A rotavirus, sapoviruses, noroviruses and astroviruses were detected with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assays. In addition, stool specimens were cultured for bacterial pathogens. Children who were brought to the clinic with acute diarrhea underwent a medical evaluation, including an estimation of dehydration.
Results: Two hundred seven children (median age, 20.1 months; range, 9-44 months) were enrolled. During the 6-month study period, 98 diarrheal episodes in 95 children were reported. Of these, 48 were reported retrospectively in telephone interviews. The incidence of acute diarrheal episodes was 0.08 episode per child per month. A viral etiologic agent was identified in 69% of cases. Rotaviruses were identified in 17 cases (40%), sapoviruses in 8 (19%) and astroviruses in 3 (7%). One patient had a coinfection with rotavirus and astrovirus. Campylobacter jejuni was detected in 2 patients and Clostridium difficile was found in 5 patients, all coinfected with a virus. In clinical assessments, 9 patients (18%) showed signs of dehydration and were given oral rehydration solution; 6 of these were hospitalized.
Conclusions: Acute diarrhea among children attending day-care centers was common in wintertime. Rotaviruses were, expectedly, the most common causative agents, but sapoviruses were second to rotaviruses as etiologic agents in this population.