An electrophoretic analysis of rotavirus RNA segments was carried out on 522 faecal specimens, obtained from children hospitalized in Sicily in the period 1981/85. One hundred and one viral isolates could be characterized with respect to the electrophoretic pattern of their genomic RNAs. This analysis revealed that in 1981/82 different electropherotypes cocirculated in the infant population. In 1983 one of the patterns became prevalent; in 1984/85 only one electropherotype was detected, both in Palermo and Catania specimens. The serotyping showed that all viral strains with the prevalent electropherotype were subgroup II and serotype 1. These results contrast with the extensive genome variability of rotavirus strains observed in urban areas.
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