Adenoviruses are a common group of viruses that are known to cause a variety of illnesses. They infect the tissue linings, which include membranes in the eyes, respiratory tract, intestines, urinary tract and nervous system. While they can infect people of all ages, infants or individuals with weak immune systems are more prone to get adenoviruses.

The symptoms of adenoviruses are typically mild. They can vary greatly and cause a range of illnesses, including the common cold, a sore throat, diarrhea, pink eye (viral), fever, pneumonia, bronchitis and inflammation of stomach or intestines.

Adenoviruses are highly contagious. They tend to be resistant to many disinfectant products and can remain on surfaces and objects for long periods of time. While there is no vaccine for adenovirus, there are steps that can be taken to help prevent and protect against adenovirus. These include washing your hands with soap and water often, avoiding touching your mouth, nose or eyes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Typically, infections last a few days to a week or two in duration and get better on their own. Getting plenty of rest, drinking enough liquids and taking acetaminophen to treat fevers should help in recovering from an adenovirus.

However, you should call your doctor and set up an appointment if your child is sick and has one or more of the following:

  • Has high fever or a fever that lasts more than a couple days
  • Is experiencing breathing problems
  • Is under 3 months of age
  • Has a weak immune system
  • Is experiencing eye pain, red eyes or change in vision
  • Has severe diarrhea, vomiting or signs of dehydration

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Danielle Empson, M.D., is board certified in pediatrics at the Boys Town Pacific Street Clinic, 14080 Boys Town Hospital Road. Read more about Dr. Empson here.

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