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Emergency department visit data for rapid detection and monitoring of norovirus activity, United States.

Abstract

Noroviruses are the leading cause of gastroenteritis in the United States, but timely measures of disease are lacking. BioSense, a national-level electronic surveillance system, assigns data on chief complaints (patient symptoms) collected during emergency department (ED) visits to 78 subsyndromes in near real-time. In a series of linear regression models, BioSense visits mapped by chief complaints of diarrhea and nausea/vomiting subsyndromes as a monthly proportion of all visits correlated strongly with reported norovirus outbreaks from 6 states during 2007-2010. Higher correlations were seen for diarrhea (R = 0.828-0.926) than for nausea/vomiting (R = 0.729-0.866) across multiple age groups. Diarrhea ED visit proportions exhibited winter seasonality attributable to norovirus; rotavirus contributed substantially for children <5 years of age. Diarrhea ED visit data estimated the onset, peak, and end of norovirus season within 4 weeks of observed dates and could be reliable, timely indicators of norovirus activity.

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