Burden of Norovirus Illness in the U.S.

Estimates of annual burden (annual number of illnesses and associated outcomes) and individual lifetime risks for norovirus disease across all age groups, United States. Data were derived from estimates of deaths, hospitalizations, emergency department visits, outpatient visits, and illnesses. Ranges represent point estimates from different studies, not uncertainty bounds

Norovirus Illness

Norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines) among people of all ages in the United States. Each year, on average in the United States, norovirus:

  • causes 19 to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis
  • leads to 1.7 to 1.9 million outpatient visits and 400,000 emergency department visits, primarily in young children
  • contributes to about 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths, mostly among young children and the elderly.

Norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among U.S. children less than 5 years of age who seek medical care. Norovirus is responsible for nearly 1 million pediatric medical care visits annually.

By 5 years of age:

  • an estimated 1 in 278 children will be hospitalized,
  • 1 in 14 will visit an emergency room, and
  • 1 in 6 will receive outpatient care for norovirus illnesses.
The total number of norovirus outbreaks by primary transmission mode from 2009 through 2012. The number of foodborne norovirus outbreaks were low in the summer months, the greatest number occurring in January. During the same time, the number of nonfoodborne always exceeded foodborne outbreaks and was low in the summer months and dramatically higher in the winter months.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. It causes 58% of foodborne illnesses acquired in the United States. Each year, foodborne norovirus illness costs about $2 billion, mainly due to lost productivity and healthcare expenses in the United States.

You can get norovirus illness at any time during the year. Most norovirus outbreaks in the United States happen from November to April. Also, there can be 50% more norovirus illness in years when there is a new strain of the virus.