Norovirus, which causes severe stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, is now the leading cause of stomach distress, or acute gastroenteritis, in U.S. children. This is the finding of a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study estimates that norovirus infection leads to 14,000 hospitalizations, 281,000 emergency room visits, and 627,000 outpatient visits a year.
Infection with another virus, rotavirus, has become less common since the introduction of a rotavirus vaccine.
There is no vaccine and no cure for norovirus infection, and it is highly contagious. There are various strains of the virus, and some may be more potent than others.
"It's usually a self-limiting illness," said the lead author, Daniel C. Payne, an epidemiologist with the C.D.C. "But the worrisome thing is that you can shed the virus and transmit the disease for weeks after you feel fine."
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