Adenovirus Infection
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Adenovirus Infection

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Adenovirus infection is a viral infection of the linings of the respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, and urinary tract. Adenovirus infection is highly contagious, so contact your healthcare provider if you think you have this infection.

The Upper Respiratory Tract

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Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that are a frequent cause of acute respiratory tract infections (ie, common cold), as well as a number of other types of infections. Adenoviruses can be spread through:

  • Being exposed to a sneeze or cough of an infected person
  • Being exposed to fecal contamination (eg, water supplies, poor hygiene)
  • Eating food contaminated by houseflies
  • Person-to-person contact
  • Handling an object that was exposed to an infected person
  • Swimming in lakes or pools

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

The following factor is thought to increase the risk of developing an adenovirus infection:

  • Age: childhood, especially young children


Depending on where the infection occurs, symptoms of adenovirus infection may include:


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Depending on the type of infection that is suspected, he or she may also take mucous, stool, blood, and/or urine samples for testing in the laboratory.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on the type of infection you have. Treatment options include:

Management of Symptoms

Since adenovirus infections will usually subside with time, treatment often focuses on being comfortable. This may include getting plenty of rest, drinking extra fluids, using a humidifier, and taking acetaminophen or other over-the-counter medications.

If you have conjunctivitis, your doctor may have you use warm compresses and eye ointments or drops.

Fluid Replacement

If you have severe diarrhea or vomiting, fluids may need to be given via an intravenous line to prevent dehydration.

Medical Treatment

Rarely, a doctor may administer certain medicines for life-threatening adenovirus infections in those patients that are severely immunocompromised.


The best way to prevent adenovirus infection is to avoid contact with infected persons and practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing and cleaning surfaces (eg, countertops, toys). In addition, keeping swimming pools adequately chlorinated may prevent outbreaks of adenovirus infection associated with swimming pools.


American Academy of Pediatrics

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


About Kids Health

Alberta Children's Services


Adenovirus infections. In: Peter G, ed. 1997 Red Book: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 24th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics;1997:131.

Adenoviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2007.

Foy HM. Adenoviruses. In: Evans A, Kaslow R, eds. Viral Infections in Humans: epidemiology and control. 4th ed. New York, NY: Plenum;1997:119-138.

Horwitz MS. Adenoviruses. In: Fields BN, Knipe DM, Howley PM, eds. Fields Virology , 3rd ed. Philadelphia:Lippincott-Raven;1995:2149-2171.

Infections: adenovirus. Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2007.

Last reviewed April 2008 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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