What Are the Signs of an Adenovirus Infection?

Medically Reviewed on 2/6/2023

12 adenovirus symptoms

Illustration of adenovirus in the lungs
Symptoms of adenoviruses include cough, running nose, fever, chills, stuffy nose, sore throat, swollen glands, croup (barking cough), difficulty breathing, and others.

There are almost 50 adenoviruses, and each type may show different symptoms. Most of the symptoms are mild and do not cause any serious complications. Following are the symptoms of adenoviruses:

In rare cases, the adenoviruses may affect the brain and spinal cord, which can result in meningitis and encephalitis, causing severe symptoms such as headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, and vomiting.

Adenoviruses can result in urinary tract infections causing various symptoms, such as pain and a burning sensation while urinating, frequent urge to urinate, and blood in the urine.

The symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week or two; serious symptoms may last longer.

What is adenovirus?

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that can cause infections in children and adults. Most children can have at least one type of adenovirus infection by age 10. Almost 50 adenoviruses have been identified. Adenovirus mainly affects the airways, eyes, lungs, and urinary tract.

How does adenovirus spread?

Adenoviruses are highly contagious and spread quickly from person to person. These viruses are primarily seen in the areas such as schools, daycare centers, summer camps, and swimming pools where there are many children.

Adenoviruses can spread in the following ways:

  • Close contact with an infected person (touching, kissing, and shaking hands)
  • Through the air by coughing and sneezing, which spread salivary droplets
  • Contacting a contaminated surface and then touching the nose, mouth, and eyes without washing hands.
  • Contact with the stool while changing a diaper

Adenovirus is resistant to various disinfectants, which helps them stay on surfaces for extended periods.

When to call a doctor

Most of the time, the symptoms are mild, but you may need medical assistance if your child

  • Has a fever that lasts longer.
  • Experiences breathing problems.
  • Is younger than three months or has a weak immune system.
  • Has red eye, eye pain, or vision problems.
  • Experiences severe diarrhea, vomiting, or shows signs of dehydration.

How to prevent an adenovirus infection

The infection can be prevented in the following ways:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap, at least for 20 seconds.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, not into hands.
  • Avoid kissing.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Keep your surroundings neat and clean.
  • Do not share cups or utensils with others. 
  • Take precautions while caring for sick people.

How to diagnose an adenovirus infection

Your doctor may ask for the symptoms, perform a general and physical examination and run a few diagnostic tests to ascertain if the infection has been caused by a bacterium or virus. Adenovirus infection symptoms are similar to those of other infections. When someone has mild symptoms, tests are usually not required. However, if a person has a serious infection, doctors can confirm the diagnosis by testing respiratory or conjunctival (eye) secretions, a stool sample, or a urine or blood sample.

Adenovirus infections can also be diagnosed using the following methods: 

How to treat adenovirus

There is no specific treatment for adenovirus. The adenovirus symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medication to relieve pain or fever symptoms. Follow these measures to alleviate the symptoms:

  • Take adequate fluids and stay hydrated.
  • Take proper rest.
  • Help the child blow out to clear the congestion; place a few drops of saline or saline spray in the nose or use a suction (bulb syringe) to clear the mucus.
  • Use a humidifier or saltwater nose drops.
  • Medicines such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are used to control body temperature.
  • Children and infants who experience vomiting and diarrhea and are unable to consume enough fluids may require dehydration treatment.


Which illness is known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection? See Answer
Medically Reviewed on 2/6/2023
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