Rotavirus vaccines have been successful in controlling severe diarrhea and have decreased deaths of young children globally. Rotarix and RotaTeq are the two currently available live-attenuated rotavirus vaccines. The vaccine virus can grow in a recipient's gut and spread from the vaccinee to naïve individuals. The potential for the emergence of revertant viruses is a concern with live-attenuated vaccines. We identified a previously healthy infant with severe acute gastroenteritis that was positive for rotavirus in a non-endemic season. A whole genome sequencing revealed that all of the viral genome segments were highly similar to those of the Rotarix virus, with the exception of five amino acid mutations in viral genes that could be associated with virulence. The younger sibling of this patient was administered Rotarix before the onset of disease in this patient, although no gastrointestinal symptoms were reported. Epidemiological data, circumstantial evidence, and the genome analysis suggest that the vaccine virus was transmitted from the vaccinee to the patient.
Conclusion: This is a severe acute gastroenteritis case most probably attributed to the secondary infection of Rotarix-related virus without underlying diseases. The importance of molecular surveillance of rotavirus infections is discussed. What is Known: • The live-attenuated rotavirus vaccines, Rotarix and RotaTeq, have been successful in controlling severe diarrhea and have decreased deaths of young children globally. • Attenuated vaccine virus can grow in a recipient's gut and spread to naïve individuals and may revert to cause secondary symptomatic infections. What is New: • This is the first report describing a Rotarix-associated secondary infection resulting in severe acute gastroenteritis in an infant without underlying diseases. • Amino acid mutations that might contribute to viral pathogenesis were identified by whole genome sequencing.
Keywords: Rotarix; Rotarix vaccine-associated acute gastroenteritis; Rotavirus; Secondary infection; Virulence.