BMC Infectious Diseases (2018-12-01)

Estimating the incidence of norovirus acute gastroenteritis among US and European international travelers to areas of moderate to high risk of traveler’s diarrhea: a prospective cohort study protocol

  • Lisa Lindsay,
  • Herbert L. DuPont,
  • Christine L. Moe,
  • Martin Alberer,
  • Christoph Hatz,
  • Amy E. Kirby,
  • Henry M. Wu,
  • Thomas Verstraeten,
  • Robert Steffen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 18, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


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Abstract Background Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is the leading cause of illness among returning travelers seeking medical care. Multiple types of enteric pathogens can cause travel-acquired AGE and, while bacterial pathogens have a predominant role, the importance of viruses, such as norovirus, is increasingly recognized. There is a lack of information on travel-acquired norovirus incidence among symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals irrespective of healthcare-seeking behavior. Our aim is to estimate the incidence of travel-acquired AGE due to norovirus and to characterize the burden of disease among international travelers from the United States and Europe. Methods We describe a prospective cohort study implemented in five US and European sites to estimate the role of AGE due to norovirus among adult international travelers. We enrolled individuals aged 18 years and older who are traveling to regions of moderate-high risk of AGE, or via cruise ship with an international port stop, with a trip duration of 3–15 days. The study will generate a wide range of health and travel-related data for pre-, during, and up to 6-months post-travel. We will identify laboratory-confirmed travel-acquired norovirus infections among both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals from self-collected whole stool samples tested via quantitative RT-PCR. Coinfections will be identified in a subset of travelers with AGE using a multiplex molecular-based assay. Discussion This study is unique in design and breadth of data collected. The prospective collection of health and behavioral data, as well as biologic samples from travelers irrespective of symptoms, will provide useful data to better understand the importance of norovirus AGE among international travelers. This study will provide data to estimate the incidence of norovirus infections and AGE and the risk of post-infectious sequelae in the 6-month post-travel period serving as a baseline for future norovirus AGE vaccination studies. This study will contribute valuable information to better understand the role of norovirus in travel-acquired AGE risk and the impact of these infections on a broad set of outcomes.