While respiratory infections are common on college campuses, especially as the winter sets in and finals begin, a recent outbreak of Adenovirus on the University of Maryland campus has caused some concern. So far, there have been 22 confirmed cases of Adenovirus, resulting in serious respiratory symptoms and in one unfortunate case, the death of a freshman student who passed away due to complications of the infection. This outbreak has prompted a lot of concern on campus, and the university has responded with numerous statements from the campus health center warning of the signs and symptoms and making suggestions to anyone suffering from cold or flu like symptoms to be tested for Adenovirus.
What, exactly, is Adenovirus? Adenoviruses are a group of relatively common viruses that mainly affect the respiratory system in the human host; however there are strains of the virus that can cause more serious illnesses, including Adenovirus serotype 7, which is the culprit in the serious outbreak at UMD.
The common symptoms of Adenovirus include fever, coughs, sore throat, diarrhea, and pink eye. Adenovirus is highly contagious and can be spread through both fomite (objects that carry infection) and aerosol (infectious particles in the air) transmission. Although Adenovirus infection is common and typically only presents mild symptoms, there is an exception in the case of people with weakened immune systems, such as those with chronic illnesses or people who have existing cardiac and respiratory diseases, who can develop serious and even life-threatening symptoms. The symptoms can be severe, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, and can even be deadly in certain cases.
The best way for students at University of Maryland to protect themselves from contracting Adenovirus is constant hand sanitation, avoidance of touching surfaces that are touched by a lot of people in a day, and the avoidance of touching hands to the face before properly sanitizing them. It is best for students to be cautious no matter if they are in their dorms or classes. Carrying around hand sanitizer, coughing into their arms, and most importantly, staying home when feeling sick are the best ways to prevent the spread of this infection. Additionally, students with existing medical conditions are strongly urged to go to the health center or urgent care within 48 hour of developing symptoms to get proper medical treatment before the symptoms develop into something more serious.