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Adenovirus: More Than Just A Cold?

Adenovirus: More Than Just A Cold?

On October 25, 2018, the New Jersey Department of Health released a statement on adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. “A lab test has confirmed a 19th case of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell. Of these 19 cases, there have been seven deaths. The residents who have gotten sick are medically fragile children with compromised immune systems.” The Wanaque Center is a professional nursing home, rehabilitation center, and pediatrics center.

Update: 11-9-18: To date, there have been 35 confirmed pediatric cases and 1 adult staff member case associated with this outbreak, 11 of which have died.

The immune system is our body's defense system. It helps protect us from illness and infection by attacking things that don’t belong in our body, including:

· Germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi

· Parasites

· Cancer cells

· Other things that can get inside your body, such as pollen

To do its job, our immune system needs to be able to tell what does and doesn't belong in our body. For those with a weak immune system, fighting off germs, such as the adenovirus, may not be possible, such as those in the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Adenovirus, belonging to the Adenoviridae family, was discovered in the 1950s. There are 7 human adenovirus species (A to G) and 57 serotypes (adenovirus can also infect animals). Viruses, infectious agents that can only multiply in living cells, don’t respond to antibiotics.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illness, such as:

· Common cold

· Sore throat

· Bronchitis

· Pneumonia

· Diarrhea

· Pink eye

· Fever

· Bladder inflammation or infection

· Neurologic disease (conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord)

Transmission: 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

· An infected person’s stool, for example, during diaper changing

· Through the water, such as swimming pools

The incubation period (time from exposure to first symptoms) is approximately 2 to 14 days. The virus can be shed for months after a person recovers from an adenovirus infection. Adenoviruses survive on surfaces for 3 to 8 weeks and are resistant to many common disinfectant products.

Diagnosis is made by clinical evaluation. For severe disease, lab testing is performed on respiratory secretions and blood.


There is no specific treatment for people with adenovirus infection. Most infections are mild and may require care to help relieve symptoms. Anti-viral medications have been used in patients with compromised immune systems with mixed results.


· Wash your hands often with soap and water frequently

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

· Avoid close contact with people who are sick

If you’re sick:

· Stay home

· Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

· Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with others

· Refrain from kissing others

The adenovirus vaccine is only approved for military personnel 17 through 50 years of age. It’s recommended by the Department of Defense for military recruits entering basic training.

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