Clinical and epidemiological features in hospitalized young children with acute gastroenteritis in Taiwan: A multicentered surveillance through 2014–2017

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Background/purpose: Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) remains a significant health issue in children. The worldwide evolution of pediatric AGE pathogens had been recorded since the introduction of rotavirus vaccine. Ten years after the rotavirus vaccine was introduced to the private sectors in Taiwan, a nationwide study was conducted to elucidate the epidemiological changes among major AGE pathogens. Methods: From January 2014 to December 2017, children younger than 5 years old, hospitalized with AGE at 10 hospitals across Taiwan were enrolled. Stool specimens were tested for Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp., Clostridiodes difficile, norovirus, and rotavirus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The epidemiological and clinical information was collected. Results: Enteric pathogen were detected in 1983 (42.2%) of 4700 subjects, with Salmonella spp. (12.5%) being the leading cause of AGE, followed by norovirus (11.2%), rotavirus (8.7%), C. difficile (4.2%), Campylobacter spp. (1.0%), and a mixture of at least 2 of 5 above-mentioned pathogens (4.6%). The case distributions varied across different regions. In eastern Taiwan, rotavirus (21/131, 16.0%) remained the most common pathogen detected. The rotavirus vaccine uptake rate is significantly lower in patients with rotavirus AGE. Besides, rotavirus AGE frequently occurred in children with foreign parent(s), Taiwanese indigenous people, and those with the household monthly income < NT$ 60,000. Conclusion: Salmonella spp. and norovirus were two major pathogens of pediatric AGE in Taiwan during 2014–17. Providing low-to middle-income households with free rotavirus vaccine nationwide and an industry-led act to reduce salmonellosis should be considered by the authorities.

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Journal of the Formosan Medical Association