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Gastroenteritis (cont.)

Viruses (Norovirus, Rotavirus, Adenoviruses, Parvoviruses, and Astroviruses)

Norovirus - Fifty to seventy percent of cases of gastroenteritis in adults are caused by noroviruses (genus Norovirus, family Caliciviridae). This virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States.

  • Noroviruses can be transmitted by
    • consuming contaminated food and liquids,
    • touching objects contaminated with norovirus and then placing the hands or fingers in the mouth,
    • direct contact with an infected individual (for example, exposure to norovirus when caring for or sharing foods, drinks, eating utensils with an affected individual, and
    • exposure to infected individuals and objects in daycare centers and nursing homes.
  • Norovirus is often in the news when cruise ship passengers contract the virus causing gastroenteritis.

Rotavirus - According to the CDC, "Rotavirus was also the leading cause of severe diarrhea in U.S. infants and young children before rotavirus vaccine was introduced for 2006. Prior to that, almost all children in the United States were infected with rotavirus before their 5th birthday. Each year in the United States in the pre-vaccine period, rotavirus was responsible for more than 400,000 doctor visits; more than 200,000 emergency room visits; 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations; and 20 to 60 deaths in children younger than 5 years of age."

Other viruses that cause gastrointestinal symptoms include:

Adenoviruses - This virus most commonly causes respiratory illness; however, other illnesses may be caused by adenoviruses such as gastroenteritis, bladder infections, and rash illnesses.

Parvoviruses - The human bocavirus (HBoV), which can cause gastroenteritis belongs to the family Parvoviridae.

Astroviruses - Astrovirus infection is the third most frequent cause of gastroenteritis in infants.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/15/2013

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