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A virus family that causes infection of mucous membrane tissues throughout the body. Adenoviruses are responsible for a wide range of illness including upper respiratory infection, viral conjunctivitis, gastroenteritis, and urinary tract infection (UTI).
These infections primarily affect children age 10 and younger. Infection with one adenovirus confers immunity to that strain of virus; vulnerability to infection with other strains of adenovirus remains.
Adenoviruses are highly contagious and are particularly adept at mutating and adapting.
They primarily spread through:
- person-to-person direct contact, such as touching
- indirect contact, such as by touching doorknobs or furniture a person infected with the virus has touched, leaving viral particles behind, or by handling tissues an infected person uses
- airborne particles, such as enter the air via sneezing and coughing
- fecal contamination, such as through changing diapers or lack of hand washing after using the bathroom
Adenovirus Symptoms and Treatment
The incubation period (time from exposure to onset of symptoms) is usually less than 10 days and often only 2 or 3 days. Adenoviral infection seldom causes serious illness and is self-limiting (goes away on its own after running its course).
Symptoms depend on the location of the infection. The doctor may take mucus samples to test for the presence of bacteria, as the symptoms of bacterial and viral infections are often similar.
Bacterial infection requires antibiotic therapy; antibiotic medications are not effective against viral infections. Treatment for adenoviral infection targets symptom relief. Because adenoviruses are so pervasive, preventing infection is nearly impossible.
The most important step to minimize the risk for infection is frequent hand washing with soap and warm water.
People who are immunocompromised should avoid indoor crowds to the extent possible to reduce their exposure to people infected with adenoviruses.
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