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Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Jan;9(1):71-7.

Two epidemiologic patterns of norovirus outbreaks: surveillance in England and wales, 1992-2000.

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  • 1Public Health Laboratory Service, London, United Kingdom.


In the period 1992-2000, the Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre collected standardized epidemiologic data on 1,877 general outbreaks of Norovirus (formerly "Norwalk-like virus") infection in England and Wales. Seventy-nine percent of general outbreaks occurred in health-care institutions, i.e., hospitals (40%) and residential-care facilities (39%). When compared with outbreaks in other settings, those in health-care institutions were unique in exhibiting a winter peak (p<0.0001); these outbreaks were also associated with significantly higher death rates and prolonged duration but were smaller in size and less likely to be foodborne. These data suggest that Norovirus infection has considerable impact on the health service and the vulnerable populations residing in institutions such as hospitals and residential homes. A distinct outbreak pattern in health-care institutions suggests a combination of host, virologic, and environmental factors that mediate these divergent epidemiologic patterns.

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