Noroviruses are significant etiological agents of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) across all age groups, especially in children under 5 years of age. Although the prevalence of norovirus infection is known to have increased in various countries, in India there are few reports pertaining to the norovirus disease burden. We investigated the epidemiology and molecular characteristics of noroviruses in children seeking health care at two hospitals in Kolkata, Eastern India. Faecal specimens were collected between January 2018 and December 2019 from 2812 children under 5 years of age with acute gastroenteritis. Noroviruses were detected in 6.04% (170/2812) of the samples, and 12.9% (22/170) of these were cases of coinfection with rotavirus. Among children (≤5 years), a higher infection rate (8.2%, n = 94/1152) was observed in the 6 to 12 month age group. GII.4 Sydney 2012 was the dominant norovirus capsid genotype (n = 75/90, 83.3%), followed by GII.3 (n = 10/90, 11.1%). Other capsid types GII.13 (n = 4/90, 4.4%) and GII.17 (n = 1/90; 1.1%) were also detected at low frequency. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the GII.P16 polymerase of strains in this region clustered with those of the phylogenetically distinct monophyletic clade of GII.P16 strains, whose members have been circulating worldwide since 2014. Inter-genotypic norovirus recombinants such as GII.P16-GII.3 (n = 10) and GII.P16-GII.13 (n = 4) were also observed among the circulating strains. In comparison to previous studies from eastern India, the present study shows a higher detection rate of norovirus infection in the paediatric population suffering from acute gastroenteritis. Continuous surveillance is required for predicting the emergence of novel genotypes and recombinant strains and for future vaccine development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas