About This Disease

Adenovirus can causes a non-serious respiratory disease. Symptoms that can be involved with adenovirus are fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, and pink eye. Transmission occurs from person-to –person by either close contact with an infected, coughs or sneezes, or touching surfaces with the virus.  In some cases, adenovirus could be spread from an infected person’s stool or through water, like a swimming pool. These cases are rare. Most adenovirus infections are mild and the majority of cases recover completely in approximately 7 days, but some may acquire complications or result in death if they are at high risk—those with weakened immune systems, respiratory, or cardiac disease. There is a vaccine for two types of adenovirus, but it is only available to the military. The best way to protect oneself is to wash your hands with soap and water, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, and avoid close contact with sick individuals. There is no treatment for adenovirus. There currently is no routine surveillance for adenovirus in Hawaii.


Signs and Symptoms

Adenovirus can cause a wide range of illness such as cough, fever, sore throat, diarrhea, or pink eye. More severe cases can develop bronchitis, pneumonia, bladder infection/inflammation, gastroenteritis, and even neurologic disease. Most cases are mild and usually resolve in 1 week, but those with weakened immune systems, underlying respiratory, or cardiac disease are at risk of severe disease and possibly death.


Adenovirus is spread from person-to-person contact that could involve close personal contact, the air that an infected individual has coughed or sneezed in, or touching an object or surface with adenovirus and then proceeding to touch one’s mouth, nose, or eyes. There have been rare situations when adenovirus has been spread through fecal matter, like the process of diaper changing, and swimming in contaminated water. Virus shedding can occur for months, even once an infected individual has resolved all symptoms.


Testing is not usually performed for respiratory viruses because treatment would not be any different. Most physicians would make a diagnosis based on the signs and symptoms of an upper or lower respiratory infection.


There is currently no treatment for adenovirus, much like the other non-influenza respiratory viruses.


There is no immunity to adenovirus. Currently, the only vaccine available to only administered to military personnel.

Risk in Hawaii

Because there is no routine surveillance or testing conducted on adenovirus, seasonal trends are unknown. Anyone can get infected from adenovirus, but infection usually occurs in children.


The best way to prevent any respiratory infections is to avoid close contact with sick individuals, proper hand hygiene, and avoid touching your face (especially mouth, nose, and eyes). The best way a sick individual can prevent further spread is to stay home from school or work, cover their nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and proper hand hygiene.

Additional Resources

Information for Clinicians

Adenoviruses most commonly cause respiratory illness. The illnesses can range from the common cold to pneumonia, croup, and bronchitis. Depending on the type, adenoviruses can cause other illnesses such as gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis, cystitis, and, less commonly, neurological disease. Those with weakened immune systems are at risk for developing severe disease and have the ability to shed the virus for months because they can have ongoing infections in their tonsils, adenoids, and intestines that do not cause symptoms. Adenovirus infections can be identified using antigen detection, polymerase chain reaction, virus isolation, and serology. Check with your clinical laboratory partner to see which test is available and appropriate. There is no available treatment for people with adenovirus infection. Most infections are mild and do not require medical care; clinical care included supportive management of symptoms and complications. Cidofovir has been used to treat severe cases of infection with immunocompromised individuals. There is a vaccine, but it is only available to military personnel. To prevent outbreaks in healthcare settings, follow droplet and standard infection control precautions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)