The term “adenovirus” covers a range of viral infections. Adenoviruses can include the common cold, croup, bronchitis, pneumonia, and conjunctivitis (otherwise known as pink eye). In children, adenovirus infection most often takes the form of respiratory or intestinal illness. Adenoviruses account for about 10% of fever-related illnesses and acute respiratory infections in kids and are a frequent cause of diarrhea.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of adenovirus.

  1. How are adenoviruses spread? Infected people transmit adenoviruses through bodily fluids, such as mucus and feces. Infection can spread through close personal contact (hugging or shaking hands) or through the air (via coughing or sneezing). In addition, people can contract adenoviruses by touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes without washing their hands. Adenoviruses can sometimes be shed for months after a person has recovered from their symptoms; thus, people with adenovirus may be contagious even if they do not appear sick.
  2. What are some common symptoms of adenoviruses? Because they include a wide range of viruses, adenoviruses can cause an equally wide range of symptoms. Common symptoms of adenovirus include sore throat, cough, fever, runny nose, and gastroenteritis (diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain).
    Adenoviruses rarely cause serious illness, but infants and people with weakened immune systems can sometimes develop more severe illnesses, such as pneumonia.
  3. How are adenoviruses diagnosed? Diagnosis of adenovirus typically starts with a clinical evaluation of a person’s symptoms. Doctors will sometimes use adenovirus laboratory diagnosis testing like blood or stool cultures, nasal swabs, or chest X-rays to confirm an adenovirus diagnosis.
  4. What is the typical treatment for adenovirus?  Treatment for adenoviruses focuses on alleviating a person’s symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective in treating adenoviruses because infection is caused by a virus, not a bacteria. Commonly recommended treatments often include rest, increased fluid intake or oral rehydration, and bronchodilator medication to open the airways.
  5. How can I prevent adenovirus infection? While there does exist a vaccine for adenovirus types 4 and 7, it is currently only available for military personnel in the United States. There is currently no vaccine available against adenoviruses for the general public. Transmission of adenovirus infection can be prevented by following proper handwashing techniques and teaching children to do the same. Always make sure to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and stay home when you are ill to prevent spreading adenovirus infections to those around you.
  6. What kinds of tests are used to test for adenoviruses? Both blood antigen tests and stool antigen tests can be used to test for adenovirus infections. The most common antigen test for adenovirus is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), like the IVD Adenovirus Stool Antigen Detection Microwell ELISA. Another method of testing for adenovirusesis a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which copies and amplifies small segments of adenovirus DNA, allowing doctors and laboratories to detect the presence of adenovirus in a stool, blood, or mucus sample.

References
Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Adenovirus.” Available at
https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/index.html.
Pringle, Craig R. 2014. “Adenovirus Infections.” Merck Manual online. Available at
http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/respiratory-viruses/adenovirus-infections#v1018751.
Stanford Children’s Health. “Adenovirus Infections.” Available at
http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=adenovirus-infections-90-P02508.

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