For military forces, the control of infectious acute gastroenteritis constitutes an old, constant and unsolved concern. Recent epidemiological studies suggest that the common bacterial causes are being overtaken by viruses. Norviruses are the most alarming group and norovirus outbreaks in military forces are regularly reported. Illness is generally mild and characterised by acute vomiting and diarrhoea, which lasts for a few days on average, but may be severe and potentially life-threatening in subjects who are already dehydrated due to daily activity. Moreover, outbreaks may diminish operational effectiveness. Prevention of norovirus infection currently relies on strict application of personal and collective hygiene rules including isolation of the cases, to the greatest possible extent. Although noroviruses are frequently mentioned as the cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in troops deployed overseas, laboratory diagnosis is rarely done. So their real burden in military forces remains unclear and further epidemiological studies are required to determine the full impact of norovirus gastroenteritis on troops.
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