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Adenoviruses rarely cause serious illness or death. The viruses cause a wide range of illnesses and symptoms such as

  • Colds
  • Sore throat (pharyngitis)
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Fever
  • Bladder inflammation or infection (cystitis)
  • Inflammation of stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis)
  • Neurologic disease

Some adenoviruses cause different illnesses depending on the way a person is infected. For example, breathing in adenovirus type 7 can cause severe lower respiratory tract illness. But, swallowing the virus usually doesn’t cause disease or only mild illness.
You can have persistent adenovirus infections of your tonsils, adenoids, and intestines that do not cause symptoms. The virus can be shed for months or years
Adenoviruses are usually spread from an infected person to others through

  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • the air by coughing and sneezing
  • touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

Some adenoviruses can spread through an infected person’s stool, for example, during diaper changing. Adenovirus can also spread through the water, such as swimming pools, but this is less common.
A vaccine against adenovirus types 4 and 7 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2011, for U.S. military personnel only. The vaccine is not available to the general public.
You can protect yourself and others from adenovirus infection by

  • washing your hands often with soap and water
  • covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • staying home when you are sick

Frequent hand washing is especially important in childcare settings.
To prevent outbreaks of conjunctivitis caused by adenovirus, it is important to keep adequate levels of chlorine in swimming pools.
Most adenovirus infections are mild and typically require only treatment of symptoms.
There is no specific therapy for adenoviruses. Serious adenovirus infections can only be managed by treating symptoms and health complications of the infection.


Outbreaks of adenovirus infection are not common in the U.S. population. However, outbreaks that do occur usually involve respiratory illnesses or conjunctivitis. Outbreaks are more common in late winter, spring, and early summer but can occur throughout the year.

Adenovirus types that are more commonly associated with sporadic cases and occasional outbreaks include:
•Adenovirus types 3, 4 and 7 are most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease.
•Since 2007, adenovirus type 14 has been associated with outbreaks of acute respiratory illness among U.S. military recruits and the general public.
•Adenovirus types 8, 19, 37, 53 and 54 can cause epidemic keratoconjunctivitis.
•Enteric adenovirus types 40 and 41 cause gastroenteritis, usually in children.
•Some adenoviruses (e.g., 4 and 7) that spread in water of swimming pools without adequate chlorine or small lakes can cause outbreaks of febrile disease with conjunctivitis.