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Studies Highlight Worldwide Economic Burden of Norovirus Gastroenteritis

The authors discuss regional epidemiologic patterns in the United States, including data from one study that estimated norovirus gastroenteritis incidence in the community at 6% per year, with much higher rates among children under 5 years. Another US study showed considerably higher estimates of norovirus gastroenteritis incidence among United States military personnel and their families, than among civilians in the population.
They also highlight another key challenge in developing a vaccine against norovirus—genetic diversity among circulating noroviruses. Nevertheless, studies have shown that genotype II type 4 (GII.4) strains predominate worldwide, with new GII.4 strains replacing each other every 2 to 4 years. Recent research has also improved understanding of immunity to norovirus, leading to breakthroughs that may therefore enhance vaccine development.    
According to the authors, in order to offer substantial impact worldwide, future directions for norovirus control should involve vaccine development focusing on children in low-income settings. They also suggest that vaccine trials can be used to better characterize the disease burden and also to identify correlates of protection.
“Addressing these key issues will be vital to accelerate and achieve the development and implementation of interventions such as vaccines to control and prevent the tremendous global morbidity and mortality from norovirus,” the authors conclude.
Dr. Parry graduated from the University of Liverpool, England in 1997 and is a board-certified veterinary pathologist. After 13 years working in academia, she founded Midwest Veterinary Pathology, LLC where she now works as a private consultant. She is passionate about veterinary education and serves on the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association’s Continuing Education Committee. She regularly writes continuing education articles for veterinary organizations and journals, and has also served on the American College of Veterinary Pathologists’ Examination Committee and Education Committee.
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