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General Practice 2023

Adenovírus: what é, symptoms, transmission, and treatment

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Adenovírus: what é, symptoms, transmission, and treatment
Adenovírus: what é, symptoms, transmission, and treatment

Adenovirus is a group of viruses that normally cause respiratory tract infections such as flu, colds, croup, bronchitis or pneumonia, for example, but can also infect the gastrointestinal and nervous systems, or the eyes, causing gastroenteritis, encephalitis or conjunctivitis.

This virus is easily transmitted through direct contact with droplets of saliva or respiratory secretions released into the air when a person coughs or sneezes, by touching a surface contaminated by the adenovirus, or through contact with infected feces during a diaper change, for example.

The symptoms of adenovirus depend on the infected organ, and fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea or vomiting may develop, and should always be evaluated by the doctor, especially in people with a weakened immune system or children, since this virus has been linked to childhood hepatitis.


Symptoms of adenovirus infection

The most common symptoms of adenovirus infection are:

  • Fever;
  • Cough;
  • Stuffy or runny nose;
  • Sore throat;
  • Headache;
  • Earache;
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Tummy ache;
  • Red or irritated eye;
  • Tearing.

Furthermore, in the case of infection of the nervous system, symptoms such as stiff neck and back, paralysis, muscle weakness, mental confusion or even seizures may appear. See other symptoms of nervous system infection.

Generally, symptoms of adenovirus infection are mild and begin about 2 to 14 days after contact with the virus. However, in children, people with weakened immune systems, or people with respiratory or heart disease, symptoms can be severe.

Therefore, you should consult your general practitioner or pediatrician whenever symptoms of adenovirus appear, so that the diagnosis can be made and the most appropriate treatment started.

Adenovirus and childhood hepatitis

Child hepatitis has been linked to adenovirus infection, as adenovirus type 41 has been identified in some children with symptoms of acute hepatitis, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Know how to identify the symptoms of acute hepatitis.

However, according to the World He alth Organization (WHO) [1], the exact cause of the outbreak of childhood hepatitis in some countries is not yet known, and further studies are needed to identify causes and other risk factors, such as other infections in the child or exposure to toxins, for example.

How the transmission happens

Adenovirus is transmitted through direct contact with people infected with the virus or through inhalation of droplets of saliva or nasal secretions released when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

In addition, transmission can also occur by touching an adenovirus-contaminated surface and touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Adenovirus can also be transmitted through contact with feces contaminated with the virus, such as when changing a diaper, or, although less common, through contaminated swimming pool water, for example.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of adenovirus infection is made by the doctor through the evaluation of symptoms, physical examination, he alth history and laboratory tests, such as serology to identify the presence of antigens, stool or urine examination and viral culture through from the collection of respiratory secretions.

Furthermore, in severe cases, the physician may request a molecular PCR test to identify the presence of adenovirus in respiratory secretions or blood. Learn how the PCR test is performed.

Another test that the doctor may request, in case of suspected encephalitis, is a lumbar puncture, performed by collecting cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the brain and spinal cord, to identify the presence of adenovirus.

How the treatment is done

Treatment of adenovirus infection should be guided by the doctor, and in most cases no specific treatment is necessary, as the infection usually improves in a few days, and it is usually indicated to increase fluid intake to avoid dehydration, rest and eat light and easily digestible food.

Furthermore, there is no specific treatment for adenovirus, however, the doctor may recommend remedies that help relieve symptoms and avoid complications, such as:

  • Analgesics, such as acetaminophen, to reduce fever and pain;
  • Saline saline 0.9%, to wash the nose and unclog the nose. Learn how to wash your nose properly;
  • Bronchodilators, in the form of nebulizers or firecrackers, to reduce airway inflammation and facilitate breathing;
  • Moisturizing eye drops or artificial tears, to relieve eye irritation.

In severe cases, hospitalization and treatment with saline applied directly into the vein may be necessary, or even the use of oxygen through a nasal catheter or non-invasive mechanical ventilation.

How to prevent

To prevent adenovirus infection, it is recommended:

  • Avoid staying indoors or with many people and with little air circulation for a long time, such as malls or gyms;
  • Avoid contact with people who have the flu or colds;
  • Wash your hands well, especially before and after going to the bathroom and changing the child's diaper;
  • Passing alcohol gel on your hands frequently;
  • Avoid touching surfaces and touching your eyes, mouth or nose;
  • Avoid sharing personal objects that may be in contact with droplets of saliva or respiratory secretions, such as cutlery, glasses and toothbrushes;
  • Always cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a disposable tissue or clothing.

In addition, you should wash your hands regularly, using water and mild soap, for at least 20 seconds before rinsing, in order to prevent adenovirus infection and prevent disease transmission.

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