Adenovirus infection

Adenovirus infection
Adenovirus infection Case 161 (5443939520).jpg
SpecialtyInfectious disease, pediatrics Edit this on Wikidata

Adenovirus infections most commonly cause illness of the respiratory system; however, depending on the infecting serotype, they may also cause various other illnesses and presentations.


Apart from respiratory involvement, illnesses and presentations of adenovirus include gastroenteritis,[1] conjunctivitis, cystitis, and rash illness. Symptoms of respiratory illness caused by adenovirus infection range from the common cold syndrome to pneumonia, croup, and bronchitis. Patients with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to severe complications of adenovirus infection. Acute respiratory disease (ARD), first recognized among military recruits during World War II, can be caused by adenovirus infections during conditions of crowding and stress.

Pharyngoconjunctival fever

Pharyngoconjunctival fever is a specific presentation of adenovirus infection, manifested as:

  • high fever that lasts 4–5 days
  • pharyngitis (sore throat)
  • conjunctivitis (inflamed eyes, usually without pus formation like pink eye)
  • enlargement of the lymph nodes of the neck
  • headache, malaise, and weakness
  • Incubation period of 5–9 days

It usually occurs in the age group 5–18. It is often found in summer camps and during the spring and fall in schools. In Japan, the illness is commonly referred to as "pool fever" as it is often spread via public swimming pools.

Adenoviral urethritis

Adenovirus infections can occur in the urethra of men.[2][3] This is adenoviral urethritis, and it is classified as a type of non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU).

Symptoms of adenoviral urethritis are similar to urethritis of other causes, and can include:

  • pain during sex or urination
  • unusual discharge from the penis
  • inflammation of the urinary meatus
  • Other non-gonococcal urethritis symptoms

Serotype-specific features

Although epidemiologic characteristics of the adenoviruses vary by type, all are transmitted by direct contact, fecal-oral transmission, and occasionally waterborne transmission. Some types are capable of establishing persistent asymptomatic infections in tonsils, adenoids, and intestines of infected hosts, and shedding can occur for months or years. Some adenoviruses (e.g., serotypes 1, 2, 5, and 6) have been shown to be endemic in parts of the world where they have been studied, and infection is usually acquired during childhood. Other types cause sporadic infection and occasional outbreaks; for example, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis is associated with adenovirus serotypes 8, 19, and 37. Epidemics of febrile disease with conjunctivitis are associated with waterborne transmission of some adenovirus types, often centering on inadequately chlorinated swimming pools and small lakes. ARD is most often associated with adenovirus types 4 and 7 in the United States. Enteric adenoviruses 40 and 41 cause gastroenteritis, usually in children. For some adenovirus serotypes, the clinical spectrum of disease associated with infection varies depending on the site of infection; for example, infection with adenovirus 7 acquired by inhalation is associated with severe lower respiratory tract disease, whereas oral transmission of the virus typically causes no or mild disease. Outbreaks of adenovirus-associated respiratory disease have been more common in the late winter, spring, and early summer; however, adenovirus infections can occur throughout the year.[4]

"Ad14 (for adenovirus serotype 14), has caused at least 140 illnesses in New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness made headlines in Texas in September 2007, when a so-called "boot camp flu" sickened hundreds at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. A 19-year-old trainee died."[5]

Several adenoviruses, including Ad5, Ad9, Ad31, Ad36, Ad37, and SMAM1, have at least some evidence of causation of obesity in animals, adipogenesis in cells, and/or association with human obesity.[6] To date, the most thorough investigations have been conducted for adenovirus serotype 36 (Adv36).[6][7][8]


Antigen detection, polymerase chain reaction assay, virus isolation, and serology can be used to identify adenovirus infections. Adenovirus typing is usually accomplished by hemagglutination-inhibition and/or neutralization with type-specific antisera. Since adenovirus can be excreted for prolonged periods, the presence of virus does not necessarily mean it is associated with disease.


Safe and effective adenovirus vaccines were developed for adenovirus serotypes 4 and 7, but were available only for preventing ARD among US military recruits.[9] Production stopped in 1996[10] and was restarted in 2011. Strict attention to good infection-control practices is effective for stopping transmission in hospitals of adenovirus-associated disease, such as epidemic keratoconjunctivitis. Maintaining adequate levels of chlorination is necessary for preventing swimming pool-associated outbreaks of adenovirus conjunctivitis.


Most infections are mild and require no therapy or only symptomatic treatment. Because there is no virus-specific therapy, serious adenovirus illness can be managed only by treating symptoms and complications of the infection. Deaths are exceedingly rare but have been reported.[11]


Adenovirus can cause severe necrotizing pneumonia in which all or part of a lung has increased translucency radiographically, which is called Swyer-James Syndrome.[12] Severe adenovirus pneumonia also may result in bronchiolitis obliterans, a subacute inflammatory process in which the small airways are replaced by scar tissue, resulting in a reduction in lung volume and lung compliance.[12]


  1. ^ Wadell G.; et al. (1987). Whelan, Julie; Bock, Gregory (eds.). Novel diarrhoea viruses. New York: Wiley. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-471-91094-7.
  2. ^ Bradshaw, C; Denham, I; Fairley, C (December 2002). "Characteristics of adenovirus associated urethritis". Sexually Transmitted Infections. 78 (6): 445–447. doi:10.1136/sti.78.6.445. ISSN 1368-4973. PMC 1758335. PMID 12473808.
  3. ^ O'Mahony, C. (March 2006). "Adenoviral non-gonococcal urethritis". International Journal of STD & AIDS. 17 (3): 203–204. doi:10.1258/095646206775809312. ISSN 0956-4624. PMID 16510012. S2CID 34184831.
  4. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document: ""."Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ nytimes article New Form of Virus Has Caused 10 Deaths in 18 Months published November 16, 2007
  6. ^ a b Voss, Jameson D.; Atkinson, Richard L.; Dhurandhar, Nikhil V. (1 November 2015). "Role of adenoviruses in obesity". Rev. Med. Virol. 25 (6): 379–387. doi:10.1002/rmv.1852. PMID 26352001.
  7. ^ "Academic Journals formerly published by NPG". Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  8. ^ Dhurandhar, Nikhil V.; Whigham, Leah D.; Abbott, David H.; Schultz-Darken, Nancy J.; Israel, Barbara A.; Bradley, Steven M.; Kemnitz, Joseph W.; Allison, David B.; Atkinson, Richard L. (1 October 2002). "Human Adenovirus Ad-36 Promotes Weight Gain in Male Rhesus and Marmoset Monkeys". J. Nutr. 132 (10): 3155–3160. doi:10.1093/jn/131.10.3155. PMID 12368411.
  9. ^ Gray GC. (2006). "Adenovirus transmission—worthy of our attention". J Infect Dis. 194 (7): 871–3. doi:10.1086/507435. PMC 1673215. PMID 16960772.
  10. ^ Gray GC, Goswami PR, Malasig MD, et al. (2000). "Adult adenovirus infections: loss of orphaned vaccines precipitates military respiratory disease epidemics". Clin Infect Dis. 31 (3): 663–70. doi:10.1086/313999. PMID 11017812.
  11. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2001). "Two fatal cases of adenovirus-related illness in previously healthy young adults—Illinois, 2000". MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 50 (26): 553–5. PMID 11456329.
  12. ^ a b Kliegman, Robert; Richard M Kliegman (2006). Nelson essentials of pediatrics. St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier Saunders. ISBN 978-0-8089-2325-1.

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