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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
October 9, 2002

Norwalk-Like Virus–Associated Gastroenteritis in a Large, High-Density Encampment—Virginia, July 2001

JAMA. 2002;288(14):1711-1713. doi:10.1001/jama.288.14.1711

MMWR. 2002;51:661-663

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Norwalk-like viruses (NLVs) are an important cause of gastroenteritis in the United States, with approximately 23 million cases of NLV-associated gastroenteritis occurring each year.1 NLVs accounted for 96% of nonbacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks reported to CDC during January 1996–June 1997.2 These outbreaks are common especially in settings of crowding and poor sanitation.2,3 Transmission of NLVs in these settings is facilitated by high attack rates (82%),4 a low infectious dose (<100 virions), the absence of long-lasting immunity, the durability of the organism,5 and the potential for multiple modes of transmission.3,6 In 2001, outbreaks were reported from youth camps in Wisconsin and Florida, resulting in closure of the camps (7; CDC, unpublished data, 2001). This report describes an outbreak of NLV-associated gastroenteritis at a large youth encampment in Virginia and the successful use of control measures to limit spread of illness to other campers. Rapid, effective containment is a central goal of public health response when outbreaks of infectious diseases occur.