ADENOVIRUS- Overview, Facts, Types and Symptoms, etc.


Adenovirus comes from a group of organisms that causes a myriad of diseases. Infection can range from asymptomatic to a more severe one, especially among extremes of age. It is a relatively large virus with 50 identified species that involves most of the organ systems starting from the eyes all through the excretory system. It has also been isolated from canine, bats, and foxes.

Adenoviruses are also found to survive outside the human host, which is responsible for their high level of infectivity. They are not susceptible to routine cleaning without the use of disinfectant, and viruses also stay long on commonly used surfaces such as cellphones, doorknobs, pools, and soles of the shoes. 

An outbreak of the infection was recorded way back to 1977, affecting many individuals who used public swimming facilities.


Of the 50 types of virus, the following species are essential to humans and the corresponding disease that they cause:

  • Adenovirus 3,5,7 – respiratory tract infections
  • Adenovirus 8,19,37- epidemic keratoconjunctivitis
  • Adenovirus 4 and 7- Acute Respiratory disease
  • Adenovirus 40,42- Gastroenteritis among children
  • Adenovirus 11- cystitis and nephritis
  • Adenovirus 36- obesity
  • Adenovirus 1,2,3,5- tonsillopharyngitis
  • Adenovirus 4- pharyngoconjunctivitis


Symptoms start as body weakness or a sense of overwhelming fatigue, bone, and joint pains, which may be accompanied by fever. 

Listed below are some of the common symptoms by organ system.

  • Respiratory system- cough, clogged nose, reddish throat with difficulty in swallowing, the problem of breathing, ear pains and tearing up of both eyes
  • Gastrointestinal system- Sensation of fullness (bloated feeling in the abdomen), stomach gurgling, inability to hold down previously eaten food
  • Neurologic system (pertains to the brain and the spinal cord)- headache, doubling of vision and neck stiffness
  • Genitourinary system (responsible for the removal of water and waste materials from the body) – pain and discomfort during urination, frequency (refers to the repeated urge to pass out urine), and bloody urine. 


Medical practitioners usually diagnose the infection based on the history of exposure and physical examination most of the time.  Infection caused by adenovirus often comes in groups of individuals with the same presenting symptoms residing in the same household or if living in the locality may be considered as an outbreak of the disease.

Utilization of laboratory parameters such as identification and isolation of the virus, use of Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods, antigen detection (rapid test kits), and serology are some of the methods used to confirm the diagnosis of adenovirus infection. 


The following are the treatment options available:

  • Supportive or symptomatic treatment- Medications are given as the symptom arises, e.g., antipyretics for fever, antitussives for cough and sterile ophthalmic drops for conjunctivitis
  • Vaccinations are available against Adenovirus 4 and 7 and in the current practice are given to immunocompromised individuals
  • Cidofovir and other antiretroviral drugs are still being investigated on their effects against adenovirus.

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