New estimates suggest noroviruses cause around a fifth of all cases of acute gastroenteritis worldwide

Noroviruses are a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) across all age groups, responsible for almost a fifth (18%) of all cases worldwide. New estimates, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, highlight the importance of developing norovirus vaccines, say the authors.

"Including data from 48 countries and involving more than 187 000 gastroenteritis cases worldwide, these new estimates are the largest analysis of norovirus infection and disease to date. There has been a proliferation of research on norovirus globally in the last five years, and we harnessed that data for this study"*, says lead author Dr Benjamin Lopman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA.

"Norovirus spreads from person to person and through contaminated food or water and contact with contaminated surfaces. The virus is so contagious that as few as 18 viral particles may be enough to infect a healthy person, while more than a billion viruses can be found in a single gram of an infected person's stool. Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for norovirus."

Lopman and colleagues analysed 175 published reports to compile data on the prevalence of norovirus in individuals with acute gastroenteritis between 1990 and 2014. They found that norovirus tended to be more common in cases of acute gastroenteritis in the community (24%) and outpatient (20%) settings than in emergency department visits and hospitalisations (17%), supporting the notion that norovirus is a more common cause of mild disease. However, because of its sheer frequency, norovirus causes a substantial amount of severe disease.

Norovirus was also found in a considerable proportion of cases of acute gastroenteritis cases in both developing countries (14–19%) and developed countries (20%). "This highlights that norovirus, unlike bacterial and parasitic pathogens, cannot be controlled just by improved water and sanitation"*, explains Lopman.

He concludes, "Our findings show that norovirus infection contributes substantially to the global burden of , causing both severe and mild cases and across all . Diarrhoea remains one of the leading causes of death of children in developing regions of the world. We have much to learn about norovirus in those settings, and how it can best be controlled."

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Ulrich Desselberger and Professor Ian Goodfellow from the University of Cambridge in the UK say, "Inconsistent age stratification across studies prevented an indepth analysis of the burden in people older than 65 years, typically more susceptible to complications and at a greater risk of -associated death. Furthermore, many countries have not studied the prevalence of in sufficient detail to gain reliable burden estimates. Most notably is the paucity of data from Africa where the effect of probably has more severe consequences. Estimates suggest that 200 000 deaths per year happen in children younger than 5 years of age in developing countries. Therefore, additional high quality studies in these settings will be crucial to improve disease estimates."

More information: The Lancet Infectious Diseases, www.thelancet.com/journals/lan… (14)70767-4/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Deaths from gastroenteritis doubles

Mar 14, 2012

The number of people who died from gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines that causes vomiting and diarrhea) more than doubled from 1999 to 2007. The findings of this study will be presented today at ...

Monoclonal antibody effective against norovirus

Jul 24, 2013

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provide the first proof of concept data showing that a monoclonal antibody can neutralize human norovirus. This research, which could one ...

Malaysia: Norovirus discovered in lettuce

Sep 13, 2012

University Teknologi MARA researchers conducted a study on Norovirus (NoV) in lettuces. The virus causes outbreaks of Gastroenteritis among children below age 5 in Malaysia.

Recommended for you

UN chief: Ebola cases in Mali a 'deep concern'

8 hours ago

The United Nations chief warned Friday that Ebola may be easing in part of West Africa but is still hitting hard in other areas and outpacing the international response.

Ebola death toll rises to 5,459: WHO

14 hours ago

The World Health Organization said Friday that 5,459 people had so far died of Ebola out of a total 15,351 cases of infection in eight countries since late December 2013.

Flu season off to a slow start ... for now

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—This year's flu season is off to a slow but detectable start. And it appears to be a typical one that's likely to peak in January or February, a leading U.S. health official says.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.