Adenoviruses are common viruses that typically cause mild cold- or flu-like illness. Adenoviruses can cause illness in people of all ages any time of year.

What is an Adenovirus?

Adenoviruses are a family of DNA viruses that are an important cause of febrile illnesses in young children.  Adenoviruses can infect the membranes (tissue linings) of the:

  • Respiratory tract
  • Eyes
  • Intestines
  • Urinary tract
  • Nervous system

What are Adenovirus infections?

Adenoviruses are common causes of fever and illnesses such as:

  • Colds
  • Pinkeye
  • Croup
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gastroenteritis
  • bladder infection

Adenovirus infections are usually mild, but serious infections can happen.  Infants and people with weak immune systems are more likely to have severe problems.  Some types of the virus are linked to more severe disease.

How does Adenoviruses spread?

Adenoviruses are contagious.  They are 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
  • Contact with stool, for example, during diaper changing

How are Adenovirus infections diagnosed?

The symptoms of Adenovirus infections are similar to many other infections.  If a person has a serious infection, doctors can test respiratory or conjunctival secretions, a stool sample, or a blood or urine sample to confirm the diagnosis.

Doctors will also test for Adenovirus during suspected outbreaks.  An outbreak is when many people come down with the same symptoms.