Does norovirus induce acute hepatitis?

AIMS Public Health. 2020 Mar 9;7(1):148-157. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2020013. eCollection 2020.


Background: Norovirus is the commonest cause of acute viral gastroenteritis with significant morbidity. Extra intestinal manifestation following norovirus infection is rare and the mechanism is unknown.

Methods: We undertook a review of the English literature published from January 1967 to April 2019 to evaluate the risk of acute viral hepatitis due to norovirus gastroenteritis. Data sources included MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane library, and references within identified articles.

Results: We identified 126 potential studies and included 5 publications involving 17 cases of norovirus induced hepatitis, and all had elevated ALT (31.7-458IU/l) and AST levels (45.6-1150IU/l). Majority of the cases were below the age of 18 (88%, n = 15) and almost two-third (64.7%, n = 11) had supportive treatment, mainly intravenous fluid administration. In cases reporting sex, there were more females than males (62.5%, 5/8 vs. 37.5%, 3/8). The duration of illness was longer, on average 10 days, compared to 3 days in those without elevated transaminitis and it took an average of 22.5 days for liver enzymes to settle. All patients recovered fully with no progression to chronic liver disease.

Conclusion: Norovirus gastroenteritis is a self-limiting illness with majority not requiring hospitalisation and invasive investigations. We recommend that clinicians should be aware of norovirus induced transaminitis, and to suspect this especially in children who are likely to have protracted illness and require hospitalisation due to norovirus acute hepatitis.

Keywords: acute hepatitis; gastroenteritis; liver; norovirus; transaminitis.

Publication types

  • Review