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Oct 29, 2018

What you need to know:

Nine children have died from complications associated with adenovirus in a Haskell, New Jersey healthcare facility over the last week.  Adenovirus causes symptoms similar to influenza, including mild malaise, runny/stuffy nose, pharyngitis, and conjunctivitis. Diarrhea may also occur in children. Adenovirus is usually either clinically insignificant or self-limited and primarily affects military recruits, young children, and infants. When people with compromised immune systems develop adenovirus, there may be serious morbidity and mortality issues, as with the children who died in New Jersey over the last several days.

Adenovirus may be confused with influenza, so it is important to recognize differences in clinical symptoms, transmission modes, and associated incubation periods, as well as diagnostic tests, treatments, and preventive vaccines that are available. 

Adenovirus versus Influenza





Cold-like symptoms, pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, mild malaise, diarrhea in children; fever may be present; lower respiratory tract infection may occur

Fever, chills, malaise, myalgias, headache, pharyngitis, cough, runny/stuffy nose, substernal tenderness


Droplet, physical, and surface contact

Primarily droplet contact

Incubation Period

4-9 days

1-4 days

Laboratory Tests

Antigen detection assays (fluorescence assay, enzyme immunoassay), viral culture, PCR assays, multiplex nucleic acid amplification assays

Rapid influenza nasal swab test


Supportive management; cidofovir or ribavirin may be used in severe cases with immunocompromised patients

Neuraminidase inhibitors may be administered within the first 48 hours of diagnosis; supportive management

Calendar Time of Occurrence

Occurs throughout the year

Seasonal: fall - early spring


Available only for military recruits ages 17-50

Available for persons over 6 months of age

Read more about adenovirus:

CURRENT Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2019: Chapter 32. Viral and Rickettsial Infections

Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e: Chapter 194. Common Viral Respiratory Infections

CURRENT Diagnosis and Treatment Pediatrics, 24e: Chapter 40. Infections: Viral and Rickettsial

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Adenoviruses

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Melanie Allison

Executive Editorial Specialist, McGraw-Hill Education

Melanie Allison is the Executive Editorial Specialist with McGraw-Hill Education. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from The Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Master’s of Science in Nursing degree (MSN), specializing as an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP), from Vanderbilt University. Melanie has more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in adult cardiology. She is an adjunct faculty member at a top school of nursing, where she has taught for more than 13 years.

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