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Keywords:

  • viral gastroenteritis;
  • Norwalk agent;
  • immune adherence;
  • antibody prevalence

Abstract

An immune adherence hemagglutination assay (IAHA) for the detection of antibody to the Norwalk agent of acute epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis was developed using as antigen virus purified from stool from an experimentally infected volunteer. The assay was sensitive and specific and was efficient for detecting Norwalk antibody seroresponses. The prevalence of Norwalk antibody in various groups in the United States was studied. Antibody to the Norwalk agent was acquired gradually, beginning slowly in childhood and accelerating in the adult period so that by the fifth decade 50% possessed antibody. This pattern of antibody acquisition contrasted sharply with that for the human rotavirus of infantile gastroenteritis. Rotavirus antibody was acquired during early childhood by almost all individuals in the pediatric groups studied. Antibody to the Norwalk agent was also found in rural Bangladesh; in a small prevalence survey of 39 children and adults 21% possessed Norwalk IAHA antibody, whereas 95% possessed antibody to the human rotavirus.