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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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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...

In contrast, there were no deaths or ICU admissions among people infected with other adenovirus strains.

Washington State, May 2007: Four residents aged 40-62 of the same unit of a residential-care facility were hospitalized for pneumonia. One of these patients had AIDS; the other three had chronic pulmonary obstructive disease ( COPD). Three of the patients required mechanical ventilation. After eight days in the hospital, the patient with AIDS died. The others recovered. All four patients tested positive for adenovirus. Three of the isolates were further tested; all three were Ad14.

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 pinkeye.

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 colds.

"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 understand yet."

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