Background: Human noroviruses (HuNoVs) are a prominent cause of gastroenteritis, yet fundamental questions remain regarding epidemiology, diversity, and immunity in sub-Saharan African children. We investigated HuNoV seroprevalence and genetic and sociodemographic risk factors in Ugandan children.
Methods: We randomly screened 797 participants of a longitudinal birth cohort (Entebbe, EMaBS) and 378 from a cross-sectional survey (rural Lake Victoria, LaVIISWA), for antibodies against HuNoV genotypes by ELISA. We used linear regression modeling to test for associations between HuNoV antibody levels and sociodemographic factors, and with the human susceptibility rs601338 FUT2 secretor SNP and histo-blood group antigens (A/B/O).
Results: Of EMaBS participants, 76.6% were seropositive by age 1, rising to 94.5% by age 2 years. Seroprevalence in 1 year olds of the rural LaVIISWA survey was even higher (95%). In the birth cohort, 99% of seropositive 2 year olds had responses to multiple HuNoV genotypes. We identified associations between secretor status and genogroup GII antibody levels (GII.4 P = 3.1 × 10-52), as well as ABO and GI (GI.2 P = 2.1 × 10-12).
Conclusions: HuNoVs are highly prevalent in Ugandan children, indicating a substantial burden of diarrhea-associated morbidity with recurrent infections. Public health interventions, including vaccination, and increased surveillance are urgently needed.