High frequency and diversity of Parechovirus A in a cohort of Malawian children


Parechoviruses (PeVs) are highly prevalent viruses worldwide. Over the last decades, several studies have been published on PeV epidemiology in Europe, Asia and North America, while information on other continents is lacking. The aim of this study was to describe PeV circulation in a cohort of children in Malawi, Africa. A total of 749 stool samples obtained from Malawian children aged 6 to 60 months were tested for the presence of PeV by real-time PCR. We performed typing by phylogenetic and Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) analysis. PeV was found in 57% of stool samples. Age was significantly associated with PeV positivity (p = 0.01). Typing by phylogenetic analysis resulted in 15 different types, while BLAST typing resulted in 14 different types and several indeterminate strains. In total, six strains showed inconsistencies in typing between the two methods. One strain, P02-4058, remained untypable by all methods, but appeared to belong to the recently reclassified PeV-A19 genotype. PeV-A1, -A2 and -A3 were the most prevalent types (26.8%, 13.8% and 9.8%, respectively). Both the prevalence and genetic diversity found in our study were remarkably high. Our data provide an important contribution to the scarce data available on PeV epidemiology in Africa.


Lieke Brouwer, Eveliina Karelehto, Alvin X Han, Xiomara V Thomas, Andrea H L Bruning, Job C J Calis, Michaël Boele van Hensbroek, Brenda M Westerhuis, Darsha Amarthalingam, Sylvie M Koekkoek, Sjoerd P H Rebers, Kamija S Phiri, Katja C Wolthers, Dasja Pajkrt