Adenovirus Infection

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Adenovirus Infection

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Adenovirus infections most commonly affect respiratory system and cause different types of illness, however, depending on the infecting serotype of the adenovirus, various other illnesses may manifest.


Adenovirus infections are caused by invasion of human body by different serotypes of adenovirus. Patients with compromised immune systems are susceptible to developing severe complications of adenovirus infection. Adenovirus infections are transmitted by direct contact, fecal-oral route of transmission, and occasionally waterborne transmission. Many types of adenovirus are capable of causing asymptomatic infections in tonsils, adenoids, and intestines, and shedding of virus can continue for months or years.

Signs and symptoms:

Apart from respiratory illnesses, presentations of adenovirus include cystitis, gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis, and skin rash illness. Symptoms of respiratory illness caused by adenovirus infection range from the common cold symptoms to advanced diseases like pneumonia, croup, and bronchitis. One of the dreaded respiratory illnesses, Severe acute respiratory disease, can be caused by adenovirus infections during environmental conditions of crowding and stress. Pharyngoconjunctival fever is a typical and specific presentation of adenovirus infection that manifests as high fever, pharyngitis (sore throat), conjunctivitis (inflamed eyes), cervical lymphadenopathy (enlargement of the lymph nodes of the neck), malaise, headache, anorexia, and weakness. Adenovirus has an incubation period of 5–9 days and it usually affects the age group 5–18. Adenovirus infection is often found in summer camps and during the spring and fall. In Japan, illness resulting from adenovirus infection is commonly referred to as "pool fever" as it often spreads via public swimming pools.

Adenoviruses of serotypes 1, 2, 5, and 6 have been shown to cause infection during childhood. Other types of adenovirus cause sporadic infection and occasional outbreaks of illnesses. Adenovirus serotypes 8, 19, and 37 are associated with epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. Acute Respiratory Distress is most often associated with adenovirus types 4 and 7 in the US. Adenoviruses serotypes 40 and 41 are enteroviruses and cause gastroenteritis, usually in children. For some adenovirus serotypes, spectrum of disease varies depending on the site of infection, such as infection with adenovirus serotype 7 acquired by inhalation is associated with severe lower respiratory tract disease. Several adenoviruses, including serotypes 5, 9, 31, 36, 37, and SMAM1, are associated with human obesity.


Adenovirus infections are diagnosed by antigen detection, polymerase chain reaction assay (PCR), isolation of virus, and serology. Serology typing of adenovirus is usually accomplished by hemagglutination-inhibition & neutralization reaction with type-specific antisera. To measure the extent of pathological damage in particular organs, imaging is done, such as CT scan of chest, abdomen & pelvis. Thorough clinical examination is imperative to elicit adequate diagnostic clues.


Most adenovirus infections are mild and require only symptomatic treatment. No virus-specific therapy exists for adenovirus, and serious illness can be managed only by alleviation of symptoms, management of vital parameters and treatment of associated complications. Strict infection-control practices are effective for stopping transmission of adenovirus-associated disease, such as epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. In serious cases, external oxygenation, chest physiotherapy, deep breathing exercises are adjuncted. Maintaining adequate chlorination is necessary for preventing swimming pool-associated adenovirus conjunctivitis.