University Health Service

Two students laughing, Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

About adenovirus:

Symptoms: Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptoms in adults include:

  • Upper respiratory symptoms, i.e. colds and flu-like illness (please note that influenza cases are currently peaking in Michigan too)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms e.g. diarrhea
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Several subtypes, particularly subtype 7, can cause more serious illness, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk. 

Transmission: Adenovirus is usually spread from person to person through mucous or saliva via:

  • Airborne droplets, when people cough or sneeze
  • From touching a contaminated surface (like doorknobs, countertops or toys) then touching eyes, mouth or nose
  • From sharing saliva, e.g. sharing cups and eating utensils, and kissing

Treatment:  The vast majority of cases are mild and improve within seven days. Treatment for adenovirus is mainly self-care. However some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, may develop complications including pneumonia that would require medical care.

If you are sick:

  • Stay home to recover and protect others
  • Practice prevention activities (below)
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, especially if have a weakened immune system, please call UHS at 734-764-8320, day or night. Currently enrolled U-M students have few costs for most services at UHS, including nurse advice by phone.

Prevention:  There is currently no adenovirus vaccine available to the public. Prevention is the best approach. You can protect yourself and others from adenovirus and other respiratory illnesses by following these simple steps. 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 15+ seconds
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your upper sleeve, not your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid sharing saliva, e.g. sharing cups and eating utensils, and kissing
  • Routinely clean surfaces that are frequently touched with bleach-containing cleaners or wipes (adenovirus responds quickly to bleach but is resistant to other disinfectants)
  • Get vaccinated against flu
  • Sleep to build your immunity

For more on prevention, see Take Care of Yourself and Your Fellow Wolverines.


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