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29 February 2016
Adenovirus Infection  

Causative agent

Adenoviruses are a group of viruses that infect the mucus membranes of humans. Depending on the types of virus, they may cause respiratory illness and also diarrhoea, eye infection and rashes. The infection can occur all year round.

Clinical features

Symptoms caused by adenoviruses vary with the types of virus, such as cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever in the respiratory tract; abdominal pain and diarrhoea in the gastrointestinal tract; and eye infection commonly known as 'red eye disease'. Young children, elderly and immunocompromised patients are more susceptible to this infection.

Mode of transmission

The infection mainly spreads through droplets (e.g. by coughing or sneezing), direct contact with oro-nasal secretions of patients (e.g. by shaking hands or contact with contaminated surfaces), or ingestion of contaminated food or water; and may cause outbreaks of acute respiratory or eye infections in institutional settings such as schools and hospitals.

Incubation period

The incubation period is usually 2 - 14 days.


No specific antiviral therapy is available. In general, patients are given supportive treatment with adequate fluid replacement.


  • Build up good body immunity by having a balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate rest, reducing stress and avoiding smoking.
  • Maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene.
  • Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, and dispose of nasal and oral discharge properly.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before food handling or eating, after going to toilets, handling of vomitus or faecal matter, and when hands are contaminated by oro-nasal secretions.
  • Wear gloves while disposing of vomitus, faeces and diapers, and wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated non-metallic articles and surfaces promptly and thoroughly with 1:49 diluted household bleach (1 part of household bleach in 49 parts of water). For metallic surfaces, 70% alcohol should be used.
  • Avoid touching the eyes with hands.
  • Do not share towels and toilet articles.
  • Avoid sharing eye medicines, eye make-ups and other items that may come into contact with the eyes.
  • Avoid crowded places where the ventilation is unsatisfactory.
  • Children developing symptoms of infection should refrain from school and seek medical advice.
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