Incidence of Norovirus and Other Viral Pathogens That Cause Acute Gastroenteritis (AGE) among Kaiser Permanente Member Populations in the United States, 2012-2013

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 26;11(4):e0148395. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148395. eCollection 2016.


Noroviruses and other viral pathogens are increasingly recognized as frequent causes of acute gastroenteritis (AGE). However, few laboratory-based data are available on the incidence of AGE caused by viral pathogens in the U.S. This study examined stool specimens submitted for routine clinical diagnostics from patients enrolled in Kaiser Permanente (KP) health plans in metro Portland, OR, and the Maryland, District of Columbia, and northern Virginia geographic areas to estimate the incidence of viral enteropathogens in these populations. Over a one-year study period, participating laboratories randomly selected stools submitted for routine clinical diagnostics for inclusion in the study along with accompanying demographic and clinical data. Selected stools were tested for norovirus, rotavirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus using standardized real-time RT-PCR protocols. Each KP site provided administrative data which were used in conjunction with previously published data on healthcare utilization to extrapolate pathogen detection rates into population-based incidence rates. A total of 1,099 specimens collected during August 2012 to September 2013 were included. Mean age of patients providing stool specimens was 46 years (range: 0-98 years). Noroviruses were the most common viral pathogen identified among patients with AGE (n = 63 specimens, 6% of specimens tested). In addition, 22 (2%) of specimens were positive for rotavirus; 19 (2%) were positive for sapovirus; and 7 (1%) were positive for astrovirus. Incidence of norovirus-associated outpatient visits was 5.6 per 1,000 person-years; incidence of norovirus disease in the community was estimated to be 69.5 per 1,000 person-years. Norovirus incidence was highest among children <5 years of age (outpatient incidence = 25.6 per 1,000 person-years; community incidence = 152.2 per 1,000 person-years), followed by older adults aged >65 years (outpatient incidence = 7.8 per 1,000 person-years; community incidence = 75.8 per 1,000 person-years). Outpatient incidence rates of rotavirus, sapovirus, and astrovirus were 2.0, 1.6, 0.6 per 1,000 person-years, respectively; community incidence rates for these viruses were 23.4, 22.5, and 8.5 per 1,000 person-years, respectively. This study provides the first age-group specific laboratory-based community and outpatient incidence rates for norovirus AGE in the U.S. Norovirus was the most frequently detected viral enteropathogen across the age spectrum with the highest rates of norovirus disease observed among young children and, to a lesser extent, the elderly. These data provide a better understanding of the norovirus disease burden in the United States, including variations within different age groups, which can help inform the development, targeting, and future impacts of interventions, including vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Astroviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Astroviridae Infections / virology
  • Caliciviridae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Caliciviridae Infections / virology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology*
  • Gastroenteritis / virology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mamastrovirus / isolation & purification
  • Middle Aged
  • Norovirus* / isolation & purification
  • Rotavirus / isolation & purification
  • Rotavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Rotavirus Infections / virology
  • Sapovirus / isolation & purification
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This study was supported in part by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2011-68003-30395.