WARNING: It Looks Like The Flu, Acts Like The Flu; Its Not The Flu
If you have a runny nose, cough, sore throat, the chills, fever, headache, diarrhea and these symptoms persist, especially during the middle of winter, you’d probably assume it’s the flu, right? Well, think again.
There’s another virus out there that could be adding to your misery this season.
The virus is called adenovirus, and it can cause very severe flu-like symptoms. It’s so risky that the U.S. military vaccinates recruits against two major strains.
Adenovirus infections often look like the common cold, or like influenza. They cause fever, headache, body aches and sometimes but not always cough, stomach distress and breathing problems. Some strains cause eye infections.
An outbreak of adenovirus killed 10 people in 2007. Adriana Kajon, an infectious disease specialist at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, and her team tested college students at one campus during the severe 2014-15 influenza epidemic and found 13 out of 168 students who came in for flu treatment had adenovirus infections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps a log of reported cases of adenovirus.
“Outbreaks are more common in late winter, spring, and early summer but can occur throughout the year,” the CDC said.
According to the CDC, pinkeye (conjunctivitis) is another symptom that can result from an adenovirus infection. Other signs of illness include inflammation of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis), bladder infections and bronchitis. When your airways become filled with mucus, they may start to spasm, which causes coughing and shortness of breath; this is bronchitis.
Some people will develop pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, as a consequence of an adenovirus infection.
Of all the cases of pneumonia that occur in adults, about 5% are actually probably caused by adenovirus.
Discovered in the 1950s, adenoviruses are named after the tissue where they were first found: the adenoids, located just behind the nose. There are more than 60 specific types of adenoviruses that can cause human infections; others cause sickness exclusively in animals. Differences in types result in differences in symptoms. Some types are more likely to give you pinkeye, say, while other types might lead to gastroenteritis.
Adenoviruses are spread by coughing and sneezing, direct contact with an infected person or touching objects and surfaces, such as a door handles and light switches, where adenoviruses can live and remain infectious for long periods.
So, how do you fight this virus strain?
Avoid people who are coughing and sneezing,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said to CNN. “Also avoid people who…