Viral infections, especially those with noroviruses are the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in Europe. To obtain information about the epidemic situation of noroviruses in Switzerland, an initial study was launched in the German-speaking part of the country to systematically compile Norovirus outbreak information between 2001 and 2003. In total, 73 outbreaks were registered. Most affected were closed settings, e.g. nursing homes (34%) and hospitals (25%). Transmission pathways were identified in 74% of Norovirus outbreaks. In 81% of these cases person-to-person transmission was the primary route of infection and on seven occasions (13%), a foodborne transmission was the possible cause. Furthermore, Norovirus outbreak characteristics of epidemiological importance are highlighted with a discussion of four selected events.
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