The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is warning citizens about a highly contagious virus called adenovirus, after one person in Upper Michigan has reportedly died from the illness. According to the health department, they are currently investigating 11 cases caused by the infection, associated with severe flu-like symptoms. Out of those, six of the patients with confirmed adenovirus are adults who have been hospitalized, two of whom received intensive care.
Adenovirus is a common cold-like virus that can cause serious illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis. The virus can cause a wide range of symptoms including pink eye, fever, bladder infection, inflammation of stomach and intestine, neurological disease, and diarrhea. Who are at risk of contracting the virus? Pretty much anyone exposed to it, but it is a higher risk for those who have low immune systems, compromised conditions or suffer from underlying respiratory disease.
Just like the flu, the way to pass an adenovirus infection is from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People can also come in contact with the virus by touching surfaces that have been contaminated, such as doorknobs or rail handles, and then touching their nose, mouth or eyes. Sometimes, the virus can be spread through an infected person’s stool, for example, during a diaper change, as well as spread through the water, such as swimming pools.
The documented incubation period for respiratory infections for adenovirus is 2 to 14 days. Health offices are reminding people that large public gathering places, such as stores and schools, are easy places to spread infections. Which is why they are encouraged to use the same prevention strategies recommended throughout the year, especially during flu season. If sick, one should stay home, contain germs by coughing into your sleeve, wash your hand when needed and contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your symptoms.
Individuals who have a lowered ability to fight infections have chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, or are smokers are at higher risk for a more severe illness. At this time, experts state no vaccine is available to prevent adenovirus infections, but recommend getting their regular flu shot to avoid severe symptoms.