Dear Dr. Manny,
My daughters keep getting sick in elementary school. They always have colds and fevers. Recently the school put out a warning about adenovirus, and I was wondering: What is the adenovirus? What kills adenovirus on the surface? How long is the disease contagious?
Thanks for your question.
Adenoviruses are viruses that affect the lining of the eyes, airways, lungs, intestines, urinary tract, and the nervous system. They cause coughs, pinkeye, fevers, diarrhea, and sore throats. Typically children catch them more frequently than adults.
These infections are usually somewhat mild and go away on their own. But if someone has a weak immune system or a pre-existing condition, these infections can be dangerous. They are very contagious, and spread through droplets from a cough or sneeze.
Adenoviruses can result in colds, bronchitis, respiratory infections, croup (barking cough), ear infections, pink eye, pneumonia, stomach infections, UTIs, and in rare cases, meningitis.
You can’t treat these infections with antibiotics, because they are viral, not bacterial, so prevention is key.
Hand sanitizers do not prevent the spread of adenoviruses. Rather, it’s important to wash your hands with soap and water. Don’t rub your eyes or your nose in public places. Clean surfaces like sinks, counters, floors, doorknobs, cell phones, and commonly used toys with cleaner and water.
The virus stays contagious long after someone recovers from an infection, and will infect any person with a low immunity.
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