Norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among children less than 5 years of age who seek medical care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which cited a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Putting Norovirus incidents into perspective, it was responsible for nearly 1 million pediatric medical care visits for 2009 and 2010 in the United States, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment costs each year, according to the CDC.

“Infants and young children are very susceptible to norovirus infections, which often result in a high risk of getting dehydrated from the sudden onset of intense vomiting and severe diarrhea,” said Dr. Daniel Payne, an epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC. “Our study estimates that 1 in 278 U.S. children will be hospitalized for norovirus illness by the time they turn 5 years of age. It is also estimated that about 1 in 14 children will visit an emergency room and 1 in 6 will receive outpatient care for norovirus infections.”