Skip to main content

Using GI Syndrome Data as an Early Warning Tool for Norovirus Outbreak Activity


Norovirus infection results in considerable morbidity in the United States where an estimated 21 million illnesses, 70,000 hospitalizations, and 800 deaths are caused by NV annually. Additionally, NV is responsible for approximately 50% of foodborne outbreaks. Between January 2008 and June 2012, 875 NV outbreaks were reported to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). To assist in detecting possible disease outbreaks such as NV, VDH utilizes the web-based Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) to monitor and detect public health events across Virginia. ESSENCE performs automated parsing of chief complaint text into 10 syndrome categories, including a non-specific GI syndrome that serves as a proxy for GI illnesses like NV.



To assess the relationship between emergency department and urgent care center chief complaint data for gastrointestinal illness and reported norovirus (NV) outbreaks to develop an early warning tool for NV outbreak activity. The tool will provide an indicator of increasing NV outbreak activity in the community allowing for earlier public health action to mitigate NV outbreaks.

Submitted by hparton on