Ann Lab Med 2019; 39(4): 367-372
Molecular Epidemiology of Human Astrovirus in Stool Samples From Patients With Acute Gastroenteritis in Korea, 2013–2017
Jae-Seok Kim, M.D., Woon-Jeong Lee, M.S., Su-Kyung Lee, M.S., Eun Jin Lee, M.D., Jungwon Hyun, M.D., Han-Sung Kim, M.D., Wonkeun Song, M.D., and Hyun Soo Kim , M.D.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Hallym Univerisity College of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea
Corresponding author: Hyun Soo Kim, M.D.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Hallym University College of Medicine, Hallym University Dongtan Sacred Heart Hospital, 7 Keunjaebong-gil, Hwaseong 18450, Korea
Tel: +82-31-8086-2775, Fax: +82-31-8086-2789
Received: November 4, 2018; Revised: December 24, 2018; Accepted: February 4, 2019; Published online: July 1, 2019.
© Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine. All rights reserved.

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Background: Human astroviruses (HAstVs) are one of the major causes of acute gastroenteritis. Classic HAstVs can be classified into eight genotypes. We investigated the positive rate of HAstVs and the distribution of HAstV genotypes in strains isolated from patients with acute gastroenteritis in Hwaseong, Korea, in 2013–2017.
Methods: Between November 2013 and December 2017, 3,519 stool samples were collected from patients with symptoms of acute gastroenteritis and tested for HAstV using multiplex PCR. For HAstV-positive samples, the ORF2 gene, which encodes a capsid protein, was genotyped by reverse-transcription PCR and sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis was performed to determine whether the sequences of the HAstVs differed by year.
Results: The positive rate of HAstV was 1.9% (67 samples). HAstV Type 1 was the most prevalent genotype (82.4%), and Types 4, 5, and 8 were also detected. Infection occurred year-round, with no distinct seasonal variation. Infection occurred at nearly all ages (55 days–81 years; median: 3 years), and the positive rate was substantially higher in children younger than five years. Phylogenetic analysis revealed three distinct clades of HAstV Type 1 according to the collection time.
Conclusions: Our results provide recent epidemiological data on HAstVs in Korea between 2013 and 2017. The finding of three distinct clades of HAstV Type 1 according to collection time suggests genetic evolution of HAstVs. These findings can enhance our knowledge on HAstV infection and viral evolution.
Keywords: Astrovirus, PCR, Genotype, Epidemiology, Korea

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