BACKGROUND: Enterovirus infections can cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from asymptomatic infections to severe illness and death.AIM: To support polio eradication activities, in February 2019, the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for polio in Italy, at the National Institute of Public Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanita), promoted an investigation on non-polio enterovirus laboratory capacity, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Health. The aim was to collect data on the assays used routinely for diagnostic purposes and to characterize enterovirus outbreaks strains by sequence analysis of the Viral Protein 1 region.METHODS: A questionnaire was administered to public health laboratories through all Italian Regions for 2018 and subsequently, an electronic form for lab-confirmed enterovirus infection reported from February 2019 to January 2020, including patients clinical characteristics, and laboratory data was distributed through 25 laboratories participating the survey.RESULTS: Overall, a homogenous laboratory capacity for enterovirus infection diagnosis was found and 21,000 diagnostic tests were retrospectively reported in 2018. Then, in 2019, two outbreaks of Echovirus 30 were identified and confirmed by molecular analyses.CONCLUSION: These results underline the need monitor the circulation of non-polio enterovirus to ascertain the real burden of the disease in the country.
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