By Shannon Dwyer 3-25-2013
Norovirus has left its mark. And it is on children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegs norovirus as the leading cause of intestinal disorders in children. The virus took the country by storm in 2009 and 2010, when nearly 1 million children were sent to doctors or hospitals.
Infants and young children requiring medical care for acute gastroenteritis were tracked from October 2008 through September 2010. More than 141,000 children less than 5 years of age living in three U.S. counties were examined. Lab testing was done to confirm specimens for norovirus.
Norovirus is often called the “stomach flu” or “food poisoning” because symptoms of the virus’ presence include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
The virus is the second leading infectious cause of gastroenteritis-associated deaths and is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States. It inflames the lining of the stomach and intestines, causes 21 million cases of illness, 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths in the U.S. annually. The extremely contagious virus is an enormous burden on the health insurance industry, racking up over $273 million in costs every year.