Current Gastroenterology Reports

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 401-408

Norovirus gastroenteritis

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Recent epidemiologic studies have shown that norovirus is one of the most frequent causes of acute nonbacterial gastroenteritis. Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction and nucleotide sequencing are the means by which the hundreds of norovirus strains have been identified, named, and classified into genogroups and genetic clusters. They are also the means by which a particular strain is traced from the source of an outbreak throughout its spread. These molecular techniques have been combined with classic epidemiology to investigate norovirus outbreaks in diverse settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, dining locations, schools, daycare centers, and vacation venues. Outbreaks are difficult to control because of the apparent ease of transmission through food, water, person-to-person contact, and environmental surfaces. Almost all patients with norovirus gastroenteritis recover completely, but hospital and nursing home outbreaks have been associated with morbidity and mortality. The diagnostic and management approach to an individual patient is to use clinical and epidemiologic findings to rule out" not norovirus." At the first sign that there is an outbreak, strict compliance with cleaning, disinfection, and work release guidelines is important to prevent further spread.