Background: Norovirus is a leading cause of acute gastroenteritis. With vaccines in development, population-based estimates of norovirus burden are needed to identify target populations, quantify potential benefits, and understand disease dynamics. Methods: We estimated the attributable fraction (AF) for norovirus infections in children, defined as the proportion of children testing positive for norovirus whose gastroenteritis was attributable to norovirus. We calculated the standardized incidence and emergency department (ED) visit rates attributable to norovirus using provincial gastroenteritis visit administrative data. Results: From 3731 gastroenteritis case patients and 2135 controls we determined that the AFs were 67.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 31.5%-100%) and 91.6% (88.8%-94.4%) for norovirus genogroups I (GI) and II (GII), respectively. Norovirus GII AF varied by season but not age. We attributed 116 episodes (95% CI, 103-129) and 59 (51-67) ED visits per 10000 child-years to norovirus GII across all ages, accounting for 20% and 18% of all medically attended gastroenteritis episodes and ED visits, respectively. Conclusions: In children, a large proportion of norovirus GII detections reflect causation, demonstrating significant potential for norovirus GII vaccines. Seasonal variation in the norovirus GII AF may have implications for understanding the role asymptomatic carriage plays in disease dynamics.
- pediatric emergency medicine