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Patient education: Adenovirus infections (The Basics)

Patient education: Adenovirus infections (The Basics)

What are adenovirus infections? — Adenovirus infections are a group of infections caused by a type of virus called "adenoviruses." Adenoviruses can infect different parts of the body. They cause many types of illnesses, including the common cold.

Adenovirus infections are not serious in most people, but they can be serious in young babies and people who have trouble fighting infections. This includes people who have had organ or stem cell transplants, people with cancer, and people with HIV infection.

Adenovirus infections happen more often in children than adults. They often cause a fever along with other symptoms. Adenovirus infections spread easily, so it is not unusual for there to be "outbreaks" of infections. For example, this can happen in day care centers. People just starting in the military also tend to get adenovirus infections.

What are the symptoms of adenovirus infections? — The symptoms of adenovirus infections are different depending on what part of the body the virus infects. Symptoms can include:

Fever

Sore throat

Runny nose

Cough

Ear pain

Conjunctivitis (also called "pink eye")

Diarrhea

Hoarse voice

Should I see a doctor or nurse? — If you do not have trouble fighting infections, then probably not. Adenovirus infections usually get better on their own. But if any of your symptoms are severe or last longer than a few days, you should see your doctor or nurse.

You should also see your doctor or nurse if you have trouble fighting infections. For example, see your doctor or nurse if you have had an organ or stem cell transplant or if you have cancer or HIV infection.

The symptoms of adenovirus infection can also happen with more serious infections. To make sure that your child does not have one of these more serious infections, you should take your child to a doctor or nurse if they are:

Younger than 3 months and have a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher. Your infant should see a doctor or nurse even if they look normal or seem fine.

Between 3 and 36 months and have a rectal temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher for more than 3 days. Go right away if your child seems sick or is fussy, is clingy, or refuses to drink fluids.

Between 3 and 36 months old and have a rectal temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

Children of any age should also see a doctor or nurse if they have:

An oral, rectal, ear, or forehead temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher

An armpit temperature of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher

A seizure caused by a fever

Fevers that keep coming back (even if they last only a few hours)

A fever plus an ongoing medical problem, such as heart disease, cancer, lupus, or sickle cell anemia

A fever plus a new skin rash

Will I need tests? — Probably not. But if your symptoms or your child's symptoms are severe, the doctor might do tests to find out the cause of the infection. They might also order tests if lots of people in your area get the same type of infection. For example, doctors might do tests if lots of children at the same summer camp get an eye infection along with a sore throat and fever.

How are adenovirus infections treated? — Adenovirus infections usually get better on their own without any treatment. But these infections can be serious in young babies or people who have problems fighting infections. In rare cases, doctors prescribe medicines that fight viruses. These are called "antiviral medicines."

Can adenovirus infections be prevented? — The best way to prevent an adenovirus infection is to keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol gel rubs.

Some other ways to prevent the spread of infection include:

Always wash your hands with soap and water after you change your child's diaper.

Clean sinks, counters, and other surfaces with a bleach and water mixture.

Do not share towels, bed linens, pajamas, or other personal items.

Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

More on this topic

Patient education: Fever in children (The Basics)
Patient education: Rotavirus infection (The Basics)
Patient education: Conjunctivitis (pink eye) (The Basics)
Patient education: Cough, runny nose, and the common cold (The Basics)

Patient education: Fever in children (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: The common cold in children (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jun 02, 2024.
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