What are Adenoviruses?

Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illnesses.  They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis).  You can get an adenovirus infection at any age.  People with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are more like than others to get very sick from an adenovirus infection.

What Type of Illnesses Can Be Caused by Adenoviruses?

Adenoviruses can cause the following:

  • Common cold
  • Sore throat
  • Bronchitis ( a condition that occurs when the airways in the lungs become filled with mucus and may spasm, which causes a person to cough and have shortness of breath)
  • Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
  • Diarrhea
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Fever
  • Bladder inflammation or infection
  • Inflammation of stomach and intestines
  • Neurologic diseases (conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord)

Adenoviruses can cause mild to severe illness, though serious illness is less common.  People with weakened immune systems, or existing respiratory or cardiac disease, are at higher risk of developing severe illness from infection.

How are Adenoviruses Transmitted?

Adenoviruses are usually spread from an infected person to others through

  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • the air by coughing and sneezing
  • touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Some adenoviruses can spread through an infected person's stool, for example, during diaper changing.  Adenovirus can also spread through the water, such as swimming pools, but this is less common.

Sometimes the virus can be shed (released from the body) for a long time after a person recovers from an adenovirus infection, especially among people who have weakened immune systems.  This "virus shedding" usually occurs without symptoms, even though the person can still spread adenovirus to other people. 

What can you do to prevent getting an adenovirus?

FOLLOW SIMPLE STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick

If you're sick you can help protect others:

  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with others
  • Refrain from kissing others

Is there any treatment for adenoviruses?

There is no specific treatment for people with adenovirus infection.  Most adenovirus infections are mild and may require only care to help relieve symptoms

For more information on adenoviruses go to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/about/index.html