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N Engl J Med. 1977 Jul 14;297(2):86-9.

Clinical immunity in acute gastroenteritis caused by Norwalk agent.


To examine immunity in viral gastroenteritis, we challenged and then rechallenged 12 volunteers with Norwalk agent and evaluated symptoms, jejunal biopsies and serum antibody. With the first challenge, gastroenteritis developed in six volunteers but not in the others. When rechallenged 27 to 42 months later, the six who became ill initially again had gastroenteritis with jejunal lesions; in the six previously immune volunteers illness or jejunal lesions did not develop. Four of five ill volunteers had increases in serum antibody to Norwalk agent after both challenges. Serum antibody did not increase in three immune volunteers after either challenge. Four volunteers who had twice become ill underwent a third challenge four to eight weeks after their second illness. In one gastroenteritis developed; in three, it did not. These findings indicate two forms of immunity for viral gastroenteritis, one of short and the other of long duration. Factors other than serum antibody appear important in immunity to Norwalk gastroenteritis.

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