Human bocavirus (HBoV) is an emerging virus globally associated with diarrhea in young children. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of HBoV genotypes in children (≤5 years) from rural communities in South Africa (SA) suffering from acute gastroenteritis (AGE). A total of 141 fecal samples of children ≤5 years with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) were collected from rural primary health care facilities in the Vhembe district of SA between June 2017 and July 2018. Clinical symptoms and demographic data were also recorded. A total of 102 (72%) were outpatients, and 39 (28%) were hospitalized patients. Human bocavirus (HBoV) genotypes were determined using real-time multiplex PCR. DNA extracts of positive samples were confirmed by conventional PCR targeting the NS1 gene. Co-infection with other enteric viruses were determined in HBoV-positive samples using real-time PCR. HBoV was detected in eight (5.7%) children with AGE, of which three (37.5%) were HBoV1, three (37.5%) were HBoV3, and two (25%) were HBoV2. The majority of positive cases were identified in outpatients (62%) between the ages of 1 and 24 months. Co-infection in HBoV-positive samples with other enteric viruses included rotavirus (37.5%), adenovirus (37.5%), norovirus (25%), and astrovirus (12.5%). HBoV infections could be seen as a potential emerging diarrheal pathogen in South Africa. However, more studies are needed to understand the role of HBoV infections in children with AGE.
Keywords: acute gastroenteritis; children; human bocavirus; rural communities.