The Vast and Varied Global Burden of Norovirus: Prospects for Prevention and Control.PLoS Med. 2016 Apr; 13(4):e1001999.PM
Globally, norovirus is associated with approximately one-fifth of all diarrhea cases, with similar prevalence in both children and adults, and is estimated to cause over 200,000 deaths annually in developing countries. Norovirus is an important pathogen in a number of high-priority domains: it is the most common cause of diarrheal episodes globally, the principal cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States, a key health care-acquired infection, a common cause of travel-associated diarrhea, and a bane for deployed military troops. Partly as a result of this ubiquity and burden across a range of different populations, identifying target groups and strategies for intervention has been challenging. And, on top of the breadth of this public health problem, there remain important gaps in scientific knowledge regarding norovirus, especially with respect to disease in low-income settings. Many pathogens can cause acute gastroenteritis. Historically, rotavirus was the most common cause of severe disease in young children globally. Now, vaccines are available for rotavirus and are universally recommended by the World Health Organization. In countries with effective rotavirus vaccination programs, disease due to that pathogen has decreased markedly, but norovirus persists and is now the most common cause of pediatric gastroenteritis requiring medical attention. However, the data supporting the precise role of norovirus in low- and middle-income settings are sparse. With vaccines in the pipeline, addressing these and other important knowledge gaps is increasingly pressing. We assembled an expert group to assess the evidence for the global burden of norovirus and to consider the prospects for norovirus vaccine development. The group assessed the evidence in the areas of burden of disease, epidemiology, diagnostics, disease attribution, acquired immunity, and innate susceptibility, and the group considered how to bring norovirus vaccines from their current state of development to a viable product that will benefit global health.