What is an adenovirus?

Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a variety of illnesses in humans. Most commonly, they cause respiratory tract infections or conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eyes).

Adenoviruses are very hardy and can survive for long periods outside of a host human or animal. Both animals and human get adenovirus infections. Adenoviruses can infect different organs within the body, but most infections do not produce signs or symptoms (are asymptomatic).

What are the types of adenovirus?

There are 52 types of adenovirus that specialized blood tests can distinguish. These are serotypes. As discussed previously, most adenovirus infections do not cause symptoms or signs, and many infections that do produce symptoms only cause a mild illness. Serious infections, respiratory diseases, and illnesses are rare. Immunocompromised patients may be at greater risk.

Some of the illnesses that adenovirus serotypes can cause include the following:

What causes adenovirus?

There are several ways that an adenovirus infection spreads from person to person. Close contact with an infected person, such as touching, is a common way the infection spreads. It can also spread by droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Since the virus can live outside the body, you can also get an adenovirus infection by touching a surface contaminated with the virus. Some kinds of adenovirus spread through the stool of an infected person (fecal-oral route), and contaminated water exposure, such as swimming pools, may transmit some types.

People infected with an adenovirus may shed the virus even after their symptoms and signs disappear.

What are the symptoms of adenovirus?

What is the treatment for adenovirus?

There are no drugs that are specific for adenoviral infections, and treatment of an adenovirus infection involves treating the symptoms and signs of the individual illness. Since most illnesses are mild and self-limited, often people do not require treatment from a healthcare provider.

Is it possible to prevent adenovirus?

  • You can take steps to help protect yourself from adenovirus infection, although it is likely not possible to completely prevent becoming infected by these common viruses.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are ill, observing good handwashing and hygiene practices, and avoiding touching your nose, mouth, and eyes with unwashed hands can help prevent viral infections.
  • There is no adenoviral vaccine available for the public.
  • A vaccine specific for adenovirus types 4 and 7 that are common causes of respiratory illness is available for use only in U.S. military recruits, who may be at higher risk for this infection.


Adenovirus See pictures of viral infections See Images
Tebruegge, Marc, and Nigel Curtis. "Adenovirus: An Overview for Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialists." The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 31.6 June 2012: 626-627. <>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Adenoviruses." Apr. 26, 2018.<>.