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Exams and Tests
Most state laboratories in the U.S. have a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) that is very sensitive and specific for detecting the genetic material of norovirus. Stool, vomit, and environmental swabs can be used as samples for this test. Unfortunately, samples need to be sent to the labs, which can be time-consuming. Other diagnostic tests have been used for norovirus infection (for example, electron microscopy, serum antibody increases, and ELISA), but these tests are done infrequently and often are less sensitive and specific than RT-PCR. Testing outbreaks for norovirus is important because such testing can rule out diseases with similar symptoms (for example, diseases caused by rotavirus, Vibrio, Escherichia, and other organisms).
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