Killer Cold Virus Appears in U.S.
10 Deaths From Outbreaks in 4 States as Ad14 Cold Virus Becomes More Common
U.S. Ad14 Outbreaks continued...
Texas, February 2007: Beginning last February, recruits undergoing
basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base started coming down with
adenovirus infections. From February through June, 90% of analyzed virus
isolates were Ad14.
During this time, 27 of these previously healthy young adults were
hospitalized for pneumonia. Five went to the ICU. One died. Throat swabs were
taken from 16 of these patients, including all five ICU patients. All tested
positive for Ad14.
Investigators tested 218 health care workers from the hospital units that
treated the recruits; six were positive for Ad14. Five of the six had treated
hospitalized Ad14 patients.
The base continued to have a high rate of respiratory illness, with 55 cases
from Sept. 23-29, the last week for which test results are available.
An additional 220 cases of Ad14 infection turned up during tests at other
Texas military bases that received Lackland recruits. Ad14 was also found in an
eye culture from an outpatient in the surrounding community who was treated for
Is it likely that Ad14 has spread beyond these four states? Without hard
data, Su is reluctant to speculate, but he suggests that doctors across the
U.S. should pay special attention to patients who have severe or worsening
"It is a germ that bears watching," Su says. "People have to be
aware of this virus. It is becoming more common, and it does have the
capability to cause severe illness in people of all ages. What puts people at
risk of severe respiratory infection from Ad14 is not something we clearly
Adenovirus Spreads Easily
There are 51 different adenovirus strains. In the 1960s, Gray says,
adenovirus was considered a "rather innocuous childhood problem." That
opinion changed when adenoviruses turned out to be responsible for huge
outbreaks that caused severe disease and deaths among military recruits.
"Now we know adenovirus is really a big player and associated with
chronic diseases," Gray says. "The latest condition to be associated
with adenovirus is
obesity. It's also implicated in heart infections, brain infections, and in
some inflammatory diseases of the lung. It is a very interesting
Adenovirus can spread from person to person via aerosolized droplets in
coughs. But it's also present in feces, and fecal-oral spread is common
among young children. The virus can survive for weeks on contaminated surfaces.
In the summer, there may be swimming-pool-related outbreaks.
The adenovirus incubation period is two to nine days. Different adenovirus
strains behave differently, but outbreaks can be explosive.
A vaccine that protected against the Ad4 and Ad7 adenovirus strains nearly
eliminated the U.S. military problem. But when its single manufacturer stopped
making the vaccine, serious adenovirus outbreaks once again began to plague