Cause of Norovirus Gastroenteritis
The cause of norovirus gastroenteritis is, quite simply, the norovirus. This virus is highly contagious and can survive in very cold and very hot temperatures. Because this cause of norovirus gastroenteritis is so contagious and so resistant to environmental changes, it's important for people to take whatever precautions they can to avoid infection.
Noroviruses are a group of related RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses that cause acute viral gastroenteritis (also known as the "stomach flu") in humans. Norovirus was recently approved as the official genus name for the group of viruses previously described as "Norwalk-like viruses" (NLV). Noroviruses are named after the original strain, "Norwalk virus," which caused an outbreak of gastroenteritis in a school in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968.
Noroviruses are relatively resistant to environmental challenge: They are able to survive freezing temperatures, temperatures as high as 140°F (60°C), and have even been associated with illness after being steamed in shellfish. Moreover, noroviruses can survive in up to 10 ppm chlorine, well in excess of levels routinely present in public water systems.
Noroviruses are highly contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. Norovirus transmission can occur in one of several ways.
(Click Norovirus Transmission for more information.)