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Norovirus is the leading cause of severe GI illness in children

March 22, 2013

WASHINGTON — A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has said that norovirus is now the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among children less than five years of age who seek medical care, according to a press release.

Norovirus was responsible for nearly one million pediatric medical care visits for 2009 and 2010 in the U.S., amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment costs each year, the release stated.

"Infants and young children are very susceptible to norovirus infections, which often result in a high risk of getting dehydrated from the sudden onset of intense vomiting and severe diarrhea," said Dr. Daniel Payne, an epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Our study estimates that one in 278 U.S. children will be hospitalized for norovirus illness by the time they turn five years of age. It is also estimated that about one in 14 children will visit an emergency room and one in six will receive outpatient care for norovirus infections," Payne added.

According to the release, the researchers tracked infants and young children requiring medical care for acute gastroenteritis, which causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines, from October 2008 through September 2010.

Norovirus was detected in 21 percent (278) of the 1,295 cases of acute gastroenteritis, while rotavirus was identified in only 12 percent (152) of the cases, the release noted.

Click here to read the release in its entirety.