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Epidemiology of Norwalk Gastroenteritis and the Role of Norwalk Virus in Outbreaks of Acute Nonbacterial Gastroenteritis

JONATHAN E. KAPLAN, M.D.; G. WILLIAM GARY, Dr. P.H.; ROY C. BARON, M.D.; NALINI SINGH, M.D.; LAWRENCE B. SCHONBERGER, M.D.; ROGER FELDMAN, M.D.; and HARRY B. GREENBERG, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Jonathan E. Kaplan, M.D.; Viral Diseases Division, Center for Infectious Diseases, 3-SSB30, Centers for Disease Control; Atlanta, GA 30333.


Atlanta, Georgia; and Bethesda, Maryland


Ann Intern Med. 1982;96(6_part_1):756-761. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-6-756
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Outbreaks of Norwalk gastroenteritis, which may involve persons of all ages, occur during all seasons and in various locations. Waterborne, foodborne, and person-to-person modes of transmission have been described, and secondary person-to-person transmission is common. Outbreaks generally end in about 1 week; longer outbreaks occur only when new groups of susceptible persons are introduced, usually in the setting of a persistent common source of infection. The illness is generally mild and characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Vomiting is the predominant symptom among children, whereas diarrhea is commoner among adults. Forty-two percent of 74 outbreaks of acute nonbacterial gastroenteritis investigated by the Centers for Disease Control from 1976 to 1980 were attributed to the Norwalk virus. The rest resembled Norwalk outbreaks clinically and epidemiologically and were probably caused by 27-nm viral agents similar to the Norwalk virus.

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