Burden of Norovirus Illness in the U.S.

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.

You can get norovirus illness at any time during the year

Most norovirus outbreaks in the United States happen from November to April. In years when there is a new strain of the virus, there can be 50% more norovirus illness.

Each year, on average in the United States, norovirus causes:

  • 900 deaths, mostly among adults aged 65 and older
  • 109,000 hospitalizations
  • 465,000 emergency department visits, mostly in young children
  • 2,270,000 outpatient clinic visits annually, mostly in young children
  • 19 to 21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea illnesses
Burden of Norovirus Illness

Figure: Burden of Norovirus in the United States. Estimates of the annual number of illnesses and associated outcomes for norovirus disease in the U.S., across all age groups.

Norovirus is responsible for nearly 1 million pediatric medical care visits annually

Children under 5 years old and adults aged 85 years and older are more likely to have an outpatient or emergency department visit than people of other ages.

By 5 years of age:

  • 1 in 110,000 will die from norovirus
  • 1 in 160 will be hospitalized
  • 1 in 40 will go to the emergency department
  • 1 in 7 will go to an outpatient clinic
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 in the United States costs about $2 billion, mainly due to lost productivity and healthcare expenses.

Norovirus outbreaks are common

Each year, there are about 2,500 reported norovirus outbreaks in the United States. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year but are most common from November to April. Most outbreaks occur when infected people spread the virus to others through direct contact, such as by caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them. Learn about common settings of norovirus outbreaks.

Page last reviewed: October 8, 2020