Norovirus Statistics



Norovirus is commonly described as the Ferrari of the virus world. If improperly controlled, the virus can spread like wild fire and easily lead to an epidemic. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the Norovirus is responsible for approximately 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis, and accounts for more than 50 percent of food-borne diseases in America. Outbreaks of the virus occur throughout the year. However, statistics show that 80 percent of outbreaks occur between the months of November to May. This is one reason why the virus is often referred to as the “winter vomiting disease”.

Norovirus Outbreaks in Hospitals
It is estimated that Norovirus causes up to 71,000 hospitalizations in the United States annually. One would think that a hospital or a care facility is the last place they could contract Norovirus illness. However, the virus is well known for spreading in closed environments such as these. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) hospitals and care facilities are the places with the most reported cases of Norovirus outbreaks in the United States. In addition the virus is the leading cause of infection outbreaks in American hospitals. The American Journal of Infection Control reports that 60 percent of outbreaks in hospitals were due to four viruses-staphylococcus aureus, acinetobactor, clostridium difficile and Norovirus. Norovirus was the leader of the pack and accounted for 18.2 percent of the outbreaks. Norovirus is also responsible for 65 percent of ward closures in the country.

Norovirus Outbreaks on Cruise Ships
Cruise ships are notorious for outbreaks of Norovirus. Despite this, they only account for 1 percent of outbreaks in the U.S. In the last two decades, there have been over 200 reported cases of Norovirus outbreaks on ships.  In 2006 and 2007, Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and Queen Elizabeth 2nd had an outbreak of Norovirus which together affected more than 600 passengers and crew. The outbreak on the ships occurred within less than a month of each other. The most widespread outbreak of the virus on a cruise ship, however, occurred in February 2014 on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Explorer of the Seas. More than 600 passengers and crew contracted the Norovirus. It is largest outbreak for the United States in 20 years.

Norovirus Outbreaks in Restaurants
Norovirus is a food borne illness. Therefore, wherever food is being prepared, there is the possibility of an outbreak. From the dinner table, banquets and even restaurants, Norovirus has the capacity to create havoc, if care is not taken in food preparation. Statistics released by CDC showed that restaurants were responsible for 64% of Norovirus outbreaks that were related to food contamination.

Norovirus Deaths
Norovirus is responsible for approximately 200,000 deaths globally. Most of these deaths occur in countries that do not have the capacity or resources to properly control the spread of the virus. In the United States, the virus is responsible for 570-800 deaths annually. These deaths occur mostly among the elderly and small children.

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