Approximately 179 million cases of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) occur annually in the United States. However, lack of routine clinical testing for viruses limits understanding of their role among persons seeking medical care. Fecal specimens submitted for routine bacterial culture through a health maintenance organization in Georgia, USA, were tested with molecular diagnostic assays for norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, sapovirus, and adenovirus. Incidence was estimated by using national health care utilization rates. Routine clinical diagnostics identified a pathogen in 42 (7.3%) of 572 specimens; inclusion of molecular viral testing increased pathogen detection to 15.7%. Community AGE incidence was 41,000 cases/100,000 person-years and outpatient incidence was 5,400/100,000 person-years. Norovirus was the most common pathogen, accounting for 6,500 (16%) and 640 (12%) per 100,000 person-years of community and outpatient AGE episodes, respectively. This study demonstrates that noroviruses are leading causes of AGE among persons seeking medical care.
- Acute Disease
- Caliciviridae Infections/epidemiology
- Child, Preschool
- Health Maintenance Organizations/statistics & numerical data
- Middle Aged
- Young Adult