Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that infect the tissue linings, or membranes of the eyes, the intestines, the respiratory tract and the urinary tract. These viruses account for approximately 10 percent of all acute respiratory infections affecting children. They are also a frequent cause of diarrhea.
Due to the developing immune systems and high rate of exposure to others, children are more likely to contract adenoviral infections than adults. There are cases of many students experiencing these infections simultaneously in schools and day care centers.
Early summer, late winter and spring seem to be the most common time to contract adenoviruses, although you can get them at any time of the year. In fact, most of us will have experienced at least one adenoviral infection by the time we’re ten years old. Younger children experience the most of these infections, usually in the first years of life.
The most common form of adenoviral infection in kids is febrile respiratory disease. This is an infection of the respiratory tract. It includes fever and can appear as a flu, including sore throat, congestion, runny nose, cough and swollen lymph nodes. This respiratory infection can sometimes lead to an infection of the middle ear known as acute otitis media.
The lower respiratory tract can also become involved. If this occurs, croup, bronchiolitis, viral pneumonia, or even a dry harsh cough which resembles whooping cough, can result.
Another way this infection can affect people is through gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the small intestines, large intestines and stomach. The symptoms associated with gastroenteritis include vomiting, headache, fever, abdominal cramps and watery diarrhea. Urinary tract infections can cause blood in the urine, frequent urination, and burning pain.
Eye infections can be mild or serious and require immediate medical care. Conjunctivitis (or pinkeye) is a mild inflammation of the conjunctiva (membranes that cover the eye and inner surfaces of the eyelids). Symptoms include the feeling that something is in the eye, discharge, redness and tearing.