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Adenovirus Infection

Definition

Adenovirus is a common virus that can cause:

These infections can be more serious in those with weak immune systems. Examples are people with AIDS or organ transplants.

Causes

Adenoviruses pass from person to person. People get infected from:

  • Inhaling the virus—when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Shaking hands with an infected person
  • Exposure to infected stool, water, tissue, or blood
  • Touching an object that contains the virus

The Upper Respiratory Tract

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Risk Factors

These infections are common in children. Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Being in closed or crowded settings, such as:
    • Long term care homes
    • Schools or summer camps
    • Public swimming pools
  • A weak immune system

Symptoms

Adenoviruses can infect the:

  • Nose, throat, and lungs
  • Eyes
  • Intestines
  • Urinary tract

Symptoms depend on where the infection is. They may include:

  • General symptoms such as:
    • Fever
    • Painless lumps in the neck, underarms, belly, or groin
    • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms such as:
  • Intestinal symptoms such as:
  • Urinary symptoms such as:
    • Urinating often
    • Burning, pain, and/or blood in the urine
  • Red, irritated eyes

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

A sample of body fluids may be taken and tested, such as:

  • Mucous from throat or nose
  • Stool
  • Blood
  • Urine

People with weak immune systems may need other tests.

Treatment

There are no specific treatments for adenoviruses. The infections usually end on their own. People with severe infections may need supportive care.

Options are:

  • Rest, fluids, moist air, and pain medicines
  • Eye ointments or drops—for conjunctivitis
  • IV fluids—for severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Special medicines—for people with weak immune systems

Prevention

Adenovirus may be prevented by:

  • Avoiding contact with infected persons
  • Washing hands often
  • Not touching the nose, mouth, or eyes
  • Washing and cleaning surfaces and objects
RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
https://www.healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Adenoviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/index.html. Accessed March, 19, 2021.

Adenovirus infections. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/adenovirus-infections. Accessed March 26, 2021

Adenovirus VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/adenovirus.html. Accessed March, 19, 2021.

Gabbert C, Donohue M, et al. Adenovirus 36 and obesity in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010;126(4):721-726.

Infections: adenovirus. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/adenovirus.html. Accessed March, 19, 2021.

Kranzler J, Tyler MA, et al. Stem cells as delivery vehicles for oncolytic adenoviral virotherapy. Curr Gene Ther. 2009;9(5):389-395.

Last reviewed March 2021 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 3/19/2021