Heterogeneity in norovirus shedding duration affects community risk


Norovirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis in all ages. Typical infections cause viral shedding periods of days to weeks, but some individuals can shed for months or years. Most norovirus risk models do not include these long-shedding individuals, and may therefore underestimate risk. We reviewed the literature for norovirus-shedding duration data and stratified these data into two distributions: regular shedding (mean 14–16 days) and long shedding (mean 105–136 days). These distributions were used to inform a norovirus transmission model that predicts the impact of long shedders. Our transmission model predicts that this subpopulation increases the outbreak potential (measured by the reproductive number) by 50–80%, the probability of an outbreak by 33%, the severity of transmission (measured by the attack rate) by 20%, and transmission duration by 100%. Characterizing and understanding shedding duration heterogeneity can provide insights into community transmission that can be useful in mitigating norovirus risk.

American Journal of Public Health
Jon Zelner
Jon Zelner
Associate Professor