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Adenovirus Infection

  • Definition

    Adenovirus infection is an infection caused by a virus. The infection can lead to:
  • Causes

    The infection is caused by a type of virus called an adenovirus. There are several types of these viruses. The infection passes easily from person to person, but is rarely serious.
    The Upper Respiratory Tract
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Risk Factors

    These infections are common in children. Other factors that may increase your chance of an adenovirus infection:
    • Weak immune system
    • Exposure to a sneeze or cough of an infected person
    • Exposure to the stool of an infected person
    • Living in close contact with others such as military units, schools, or summer camps
    • Handling an object that was exposed to an infected person
    • Exposure to water contaminated with adenovirus
  • Symptoms

    Adenoviruses are able to infect mucus membranes that are found in the:
    • Respiratory tract
    • Eyes
    • Intestines
    • Urinary tract
    Symptoms will depend on where the infection is. Symptoms of adenovirus infection may include:
    • General symptoms such as:
      • Fever
      • Swollen lymph nodes
      • Headache
    • Respiratory symptoms such as:
    • Intestinal symptoms such as:
    • Urinary symptoms such as:
      • Frequent urination
      • Burning, pain, and/or blood in the urine
    • Red, irritated eyes
  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done by taking samples of:
    • Mucous from throat or nose
    • Stool
    • Blood
    • Urine
  • Treatment

    There are no specific treatments for adenoviruses. The infections will usually end on their own. Support treatment may be needed with severe infections. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.
    Treatment options include:
    Management of Symptoms
    The following steps may help you be more comfortable:
    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • Use a humidifier or vaporizer.
    • Take over-the-counter pain medications if you have discomfort.
    If you have conjunctivitis, your doctor may have you use warm compresses. You may also be given eye ointments or drops.
    Fluid Replacement
    Severe diarrhea or vomiting can lead to dehydration. Fluids may need to be given by IV.
    Medical Treatment
    Infections can be more severe in people with a weak immune system. This may include people with organ transplants, HIV/AIDS, or chronic diseases. Medication may be needed to reduce the intensity of the infection. Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system.
  • Prevention

    The best way to prevent adenovirus infection is to:
    • Avoid contact with infected persons.
    • Wash hands often.
    • Wash and clean common surfaces, such as counters and toys.
    • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
    Military personnel aged 17 to 50 years of age may be eligible to get the adenovirus vaccine. It is available in a pill form.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics


    About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children

    Health Canada


    Adenoviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated December 27, 2011. Accessed August 18, 2014.

    Adenovirus VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated June 11, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.

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

    Infections: adenovirus. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: Updated July 2012. Accessed August 18, 2014.

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

    Trei JS, Johns NM, et al. Spread of adenovirus to geographically dispersed military installations, May-October 2007. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16(5):769-775.

    Revision Information

    • Reviewer: David Horn, MD
    • Review Date: 08/2015
    • Update Date: 08/18/2014
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