Epidemiology of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks caused by noroviruses in Okayama, Japan

Masako Hamano, Mitsutaka Kuzuya, Ritsushi Fujii, Hajime Ogura, Masao Yamada

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Noroviruses (called formerly "Norwalk-like viruses") cause food-borne gastroenteritis outbreaks. These outbreaks were thought to be related to shellfish consumption, although nonshellfish related outbreaks also occurred frequently in Japan. To clarify the epidemiology of Norovirus outbreaks, 435 stool samples were collected from 60 acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks occurring over 8 years in Okayama, Japan. Using reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR), Noroviruses were detected in 257 cases (59.1% of all samples) from 46 outbreaks (77% of all outbreaks). The majority of the 46 Norovirus outbreaks (89%) occurred during November to March; notably one-third occurred in December. Restaurants, schools, and welfare institutions accounted for the major settings in 50%, 20%, and 15% of the Norovirus outbreaks, respectively. This was similar to other reports from Japan, but differed from those from the United Kingdom. The transmission routes were assigned in 27 of the Norovirus outbreaks. In 18 outbreaks the routes were related to human contact (7 from food handlers and 11 from person-to-person contact), whereas those related directly to shellfish occurred only in 9 outbreaks. These results suggest that transmission routes related to human contact are more important than recognized previously in the context of preventive medicine. Furthermore, all outbreaks in which some of the samples contained dual genogroups of Noroviruses were related to shellfish, suggesting that consumption of contaminated shellfish frequently results in mixed Norovirus infections in contrast to other transmission routes and that coexistence of genogroups is a useful marker for shellfish-related outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • Epidemiology
  • Noroviruses
  • Outbreaks
  • RT-PCR
  • Viral gastroenteritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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