What is the Difference Between Norovirus and Rotavirus

The main difference between norovirus and rotavirus is that norovirus is contagious and infects people of all ages, but rotavirus spreads among children. Furthermore, norovirus is a round-shaped virus and a common cause of food poisoning, while rotavirus is the wheel-like shape and is the most common cause of severe diarrhea. Moreover, norovirus can be prevented primarily through emphasizing good personal hygiene and infection control practices, while there are effective vaccines to prevent rotavirus infection.  

In brief, norovirus and rotavirus are two types of enteric viruses, which cause viral gastroenteritis, a form of stomach flu or diarrhea illness caused by viruses. Generally, gastroenteritis is a type of irritation of the stomach or intestine, resulting in severe diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.  

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Norovirus
     – Definition, Structure, Infection
2. What is Rotavirus
     – Definition, Structure, Infection
3. What are the Similarities Between Norovirus and Rotavirus
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Norovirus and Rotavirus
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Diarrhea, Enteric Viruses, Norovirus (NoV), Rotavirus (RV), Viral Gastroenteritis

Difference Between Norovirus and Rotavirus - Comparison Summary

What is Norovirus 

Norovirus (NoV) is a type of enteric virus, which serves as the most common cause of gastroenteritis in adults. Generally, the genome of this virus is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA. Also, it is a non-enveloped virus belonging to the family Caliciviridae. However, the genus of Norovirus only consists of a single virus species, which is the Norwalk virus. 

Difference Between Norovirus and Rotavirus

Figure 1: Norovirus

Furthermore, norovirus causes diarrhea illness in adults. Also, the main symptoms of norovirus infection include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Hence, norovirus is also known as the winter vomiting bug. However, the symptoms may develop after 12 to 48 hours after the infection. But, recovery can occur within one or two days. The complications may include dehydration. 

What is Rotavirus 

Rotavirus (RV) is another type of enteric virus, which serves as the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children. But, in contrast to norovirus, it contains a double-stranded DNA virus. Also, it belongs to the family Reoviridae. 

Main Difference - Norovirus vs Rotavirus

Figure 2: Rotavirus

Moreover, rotavirus transmits through the fecal-oral route. Also, it damages the lining of the small intestine, causing gastroenteritis. Generally, this is the reason for approximately one-third of hospitalizations for severe diarrhea in infants and children. However, public health campaigns provide rotavirus vaccination through oral rehydration therapy for infected children. And, children develop immunity following the first infection and hence, the subsequent infections can be less severe.  

Similarities Between Norovirus and Rotavirus  

  • Norovirus and rotavirus are two types of enteric viruses, which cause viral gastroenteritis.  
  • Here,  viral gastroenteritis is a type of diarrhea illnesses caused by viruses.  
  • Their transmission is rapid and they spread through the fecal-oral transmission.    
  • The common symptoms of both include severe diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. 

Difference Between Norovirus and Rotavirus 

Definition 

Norovirus refers to any of the various single-stranded RNA viruses, including the Norwalk virus and other closely related viruses. But, rotavirus refers to any of the group of double-stranded DNA viruses, some of which cause acute enteritis in humans. 

Taxonomy 

Norovirus belongs to the family Caliciviridae, while rotavirus belongs to the family Reoviridae.  

Shape 

Norovirus is a round-shaped virus, but rotavirus has a wheel-like shape.  

Viral Genome 

Norovirus is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus, but rotavirus is a double-stranded DNA virus.  

Ages of Infected People 

Norovirus infects people of all ages, but rotavirus mainly infects young children. 

Importance 

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute diarrhea in adults in developed countries, while rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children.  

Occurrence 

Norovirus strikes all year long, but rotavirus occurs during cooler months (October to April). 

Duration of Infection 

Norovirus infection only lasts for two and a half days, but rotavirus infection lasts for three to eight days. 

Symptoms 

The symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and body aches. Meanwhile, the symptoms of rotavirus include vomiting, watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and dehydration. 

Degree of Symptoms 

The degree of fever and the intensity of diarrhea are comparatively low in norovirus, but are high in rotavirus, and can be observed along with repeated vomiting.  

Severity 

Norovirus is comparatively less severe, but severe dehydration caused by rotavirus can be life-threatening in children. 

Prevention 

Norovirus can be prevented primarily through emphasizing good personal hygiene and infection control practices. Meanwhile, there are effective vaccines to prevent rotavirus infection.  

Immunity 

Norovirus infections can occur repeatedly, but in contrast, children who had rotavirus infection develop life long immunity against it. 

Conclusion 

Norovirus is an enteric virus, which causes diarrhea illness; especially, in adults. Therefore, it is less severe and its symptoms last for comparatively a short period of time. Also, good personal hygiene is the main method of prevention of the disease. In contrast, rotavirus is another form of enteric virus, which causes diarrhea illness in children. However, it produces more severe symptoms and hence, it can be a life-threatening type of illness. Also, its symptoms last for comparatively a long period of time. On that account, the main difference between norovirus and rotavirus is the most affected age and the method of prevention. 

References:

1. Brennan, Dan. “Norovirus: Symptoms and Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, 28 Jan. 2019, Available Here.
2. “Rotavirus.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 Mar. 2019, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Norovirus 4” By Graham Beards at English Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia   
2. “Group C Rotavirus” (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia   

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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