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Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention


Adenovirus infection is an infection caused by a virus. The infection can lead to:

  • The common cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia
  • Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye
  • Stomach flu
  • Urinary tract infections


The infection is caused by a type of virus called an adenovirus. There are several types of these viruses. The infection passes easily from person to person but is rarely serious.

The Upper Respiratory Tract

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Risk Factors

These infections are very common in children. The following factors may increase the risk of an adenovirus infection:

  • Weakened immunity
  • Exposure to a sneeze or cough of an infected person
  • Exposure to the stool of an infected person
  • Living in close contact with others such as military units, schools, or summer camps
  • Handling an object that was exposed to an infected person
  • Exposure to water contaminated with adenovirus


Adenoviruses are able to infect mucus membranes that are found in:.

  • Respiratory tract
  • Eyes
  • Intestines
  • Urinary tract

Symptoms will depend on where the infection is. Symptoms of adenovirus infection may include:

  • General symptoms such as:
    • Fever
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Headache
  • Respiratory symptoms such as:
  • Intestinal symptoms such as:
  • Urinary symptoms such as:
    • Frequent urination
    • Burning, pain, and/or blood in the urine
  • Red, irritated eyes with eye infections


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your doctor may take some samples. The samples will be used to confirm the presence of an adenovirus. The type of sample will depend on your symptoms. Your doctor may test one or more of the following:

  • Mucous from throat or nose
  • Stool
  • Blood
  • Urine


There are no specific treatments for adenoviruses. The infections will usually end on their own. Support treatment may be needed with severe infections. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.

Treatment options include:

The following steps may help you be more comfortable:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer
  • Take acetaminophen or other over-the-counter medicines if you have discomfort

If you have conjunctivitis, your doctor may have you use warm compresses. You may also be asked to use eye ointments or drops.

Severe diarrhea or vomiting can lead to dehydration. Fluids may need to be given by IV.

Infections can be more severe in people with a weak immune system. This may include people with organ transplants, HIV/AIDS, or medical treatments for chronic diseases. Medication may be needed to reduce the intensity of the infection. Talk to your doctor if you have a weakened immune system..


The best way to prevent adenovirus infection is to:

  • Avoid contact with infected persons.
  • Wash hands often.
  • Wash and clean common surfaces, such as countertops or toys.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Keep adequate amounts of chlorine in swimming pools. This will help prevent outbreaks of conjunctivitis associated with pools.

Military personnel aged 17 to 50 years of age may be eligible to get the adenovirus vaccine. It is available in a pill form.


American Academy of Pediatrics


US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Alberta Children's Services



Adenoviral pharyngitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated January 19, 2010. Accessed February 19, 2013.

Adenovirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/adenovirus/index.html. Updated December 27, 2011. Accessed February 19, 2013.

Adenovirus vaccine. What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-adenovirus.pdf. Updated July 14, 2011. Accessed February 19, 2013.

Gabbert C, Donohue M, Arnold J, Schwimmer JB. Adenovirus 36 and obesity in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010 Oct;126(4):721-6.

Infections: adenovirus. Nemours Foundation Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/lung/adenovirus.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed February 19, 2013.

Kranzler J, Tyler MA, Sonabend AM, et al. Stem cells as delivery vehicles for oncolytic adenoviral virotherapy. Curr Gene Ther. 2009 Oct;9(5):389-95.

Trei JS, Johns NM, Garner JL, et al. Spread of adenovirus to geographically dispersed military installations, May-October 2007. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 May;16(5):769-75.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Brian Randall, MD

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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