Like most other viral infections, there are no specific drugs that can target the adenovirus. The body’s immune system fights the infection and it resolves in three to five days in most individuals.
Treatment is targeted towards reliving symptoms of the condition and includes:-
- Bed rest and isolation to prevent spread of infection.
- Drinking plenty of water and clear fluids. This prevents dehydration.
- Over the counter fever relievers may be taken in case of fever and headache. Paracetamol/Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen is most commonly used. In children below 12 years Aspirin should not be used to relieve fever. Use of Aspirin in viral infections raises the risk of liver and brain damage called Reye’s syndrome in children.
- Humidifiers may be prescribed to ease a sore throat and blocked nose. Saline nasal drops may also be used. In patients with asthma, if there is difficulty in breathing medications (inhalers) that can dilate the airways are prescribed.
- Lozenges and cough drops may be taken to ease the throat and cough.
- In those with conjunctivitis eye drops with antibiotics and ointments are advised.
- Complications such as pneumonia need to be managed in the hospital after admission. Appropriate antibiotics, oxygen, intravenous fluids etc. are needed.
- Those with meningitis also need to be admitted to the hospital and managed with antibiotics, oxygen, intravenous fluids etc.
- Those with middle ear infections or otitis media may be managed on an outpatient basis with use of antibiotics and supportive treatment for pain, fever and other symptoms.
- Cidofovir is an antiviral agent that has been used to treat severe adenovirus infections in people with suppressed or low immune systems. Cidofovir is given three times a week at the dose 1mg/kg/day. Cidofovir may alternatively by given at a dose of 5mg/kg/week. This drug can damage the kidneys and is also expensive. It is reserved for only serious cases. Cidofovir should be stopped when adenovirus is no longer detected in the blood by PCR in two consecutive samples.
- Serious patients especially with lowered immunity may also be given immunoglobulin at a dose of 500mg/kg weekly for 3 weeks to fight the infection.
Prevention of adenovirus infection
Prevention of adenovirus infection relies on healthy habits applicable for prevention of most viral infections. These measures include:-
- Hand washing before and after eating or handling material used by an infected person. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may be used frequently if hands are not visibly dirty.
- Eyes, nose or mouth should not be touched using contaminated hands or fingers.
- Covering mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing helps prevent spread of the virus.
- Isolation and avoidance of work or school when ill with a cold or viral infection.
- Keeping swimming pools adequately chlorinated.
- Avoiding sharing towels and utensils etc. with an infected person. Avoidance of close contact with a person ill with adenovirus infection.
An oral vaccine against adenovirus types 4 and 7 was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2011 for U.S. military personnel. It can be used only in those between 17 and 50 years of age.
The vaccine is recommended by the U.S. Department of Defense for military recruits to prevent acute respiratory disease.