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Transmission is by the fecal-oral route. Although some viral strains cause gastroenteritis in infants, Norwalk viruses typically infect children and adults. Infected individuals generally eliminate virus in their feces for only a few days. The illness is sometimes contracted from eating shellfish, and in some of these instances, the shellfish have apparently been free of exposure

620 Chapter 24 Alimentary System Infections

620 Chapter 24 Alimentary System Infections

Figure 24.17 Electron Micrograph of Norwalk Virus

Table 24.11 Rotavirus and Norwalk Virus Compared

Causative Agent


Norwalk Virus


70 nm diameter double-walled capsid; double-stranded RNA

30 nm diameter, single-stranded, positive-sense RNA

Incubation period

24 to 48 hrs

18 to 72 hrs

Typical symptoms

Vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, lasting 5 to 8 days

Vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, lasting 24 to 48 hours


Attenuated vaccine withdrawn because it increased the risk of bowel obstruction

No vaccine

to human feces. Calciviruses are widespread among marine animals, raising the question whether the sea could be involved in the ecology of Norwalk viruses.

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