This article reviews the incidence of group A rotavirus (RV) types isolated from children with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) in European countries during the last 5-10 years, with the aim of establishing an overview of RV diversity before the introduction of universal mass vaccination (UMV) programmes against RV disease in most European countries. Consistent with findings from previous surveys, a high degree of diversity of co-circulating RV types exists in different locations of Europe, and over different RV seasons. Whilst RV UMV can potentially change the diversity of co-circulating genotypes, there are at present insufficient data for Europe to come to firm conclusions. Even in countries outside Europe, with several years of RV surveillance following the introduction of RV UMV (Brazil, Australia, USA), it is not clear whether changes observed in the diversity of particular RV types are due to natural fluctuations or immunological pressure exerted by RV UMVs. Consequently, it will be very difficult for European countries that have RV UMVs to conclude whether incidence changes of RV types in children with AGE are driven by immune pressures from vaccination or simply reflect natural temporal and spatial fluctuations. Whilst the monitoring of co-circulating RV strains should be continued, it should be acknowledged that the licensed monovalent and pentavalent RV vaccines are similarly effective in developed countries and that levels of RV type-specific neutralising antibodies after RV vaccination are only partially correlated with the degree of protection achieved; therefore, the significance of RV diversity for RV vaccination may be less important than is often assumed. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
- Genotype diversity