During 1989 stool specimens from hospitalised children with gastroenteritis at Ga‐Rankuwa Hospital in South Africa were examined for the presence of rotaviruses. Overall 16% of the children were positive for rotavirus. However, 43% of the rotavirus positive patients were infected in the hospital. Further characterisation of the rotavirus strains was performed by electrophoresis of the RNA genome and hybridisation analysis of the VP7 and VP4 genes present. The strains associated with nosocomial infection were similar to those strains acquired in the community. The majority of the strains, both community‐ or hospital‐ acquired, were associated with a serotype 1 strain with a long electrophoretype and bearing the Wa‐like VP4 gene. Three minor rotavirus strains with a long electrophoretype were also observed to be circulating bearing serotype 1 or 4 VP7 genes and the Wa‐like VP4 gene. Interestingly, a serotype 4 strain bearing the M37‐like VP4 gene was identified to occur almost exclusively in neonates although the gene was associated with diarrhoea in these cases. Two strains with differing short RNA electrophoretypes were also observed, members of which hybridised to VP7 serotype 2 and VP4 DS‐1 type probes. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
- nosocomial infection