New Norovirus Behind Stomach Bug Outbreak
Variant linked to gastroenteritis outbreaks in 2002, study finds
THURSDAY, Feb. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A new variant of norovirus is the likely culprit in severe outbreaks of gastroenteritis in 2002, including ones on U.S. cruise ships, says a study in this week's issue of The Lancet.
Ben Lopman, from the U.K. Health Protection Agency, and his European colleagues analyzed data about viral gastroenteritis in 10 European countries.
They found an increase in norovirus outbreaks in England/Wales, Germany and the Netherlands in 2002 coincided with the detection and emergence of a new norovirus variant that featured a consistent mutation in the polymerase phase.
"Our combined data from 10 European countries shows that the striking increase and unusual seasonal pattern of norovirus gastroenteritis in 2002 arose concurrently with the emergence of a new virus variant," Lopman says in a prepared statement.
"Had these observations been made in one country, they could be dismissed as aberrations in surveillance, the result of changes in ecological circumstances, or because of the local circulation of a new variant. However, the data collected within our network lend support to anecdotal reports of an increase of an important infection and have allowed us to present a feasible virological explanation for the effect on public health," Lopman says.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about noroviruses.