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Virus Adenovirus
Structure Non-enveloped
Genome Double stranded DNA
Family Adenoviridae
Primary Host Humans
Disease(s) Caused Common cold, bronchitis, conjuctivitis, pneumonia
Symptoms Runny nose, cough, inflamed eyes, fever
Potential Complications Secondary bacterial infections
Transmission Mode Contact with aerosols, contact with contaminated fomites
Sites of Community Outbreaks Schools, hospitals, swimming pools
Importance of Adenovirus

Adenoviruses are members of the family Adenoviridae. They were initially isolated in 1953 from human adenoids, the soft tissue behind the nasal cavity. Since then, the family has been split into 5 genera covering a range of hosts. Human adenoviruses are found in the genus Mastadenovirus. This genus contains 57 different subtypes of adenovirus.

Adenovirus most commonly causes respiratory illness, but different subtypes can also cause conjuctivitis and gastroenteritis. Recent research also suggests that subtypes Ad5, Ad36, and Ad37 may be associated with obesity in humans. While in most cases, healthy people recover from adenovirus infection on their own, immunocompromised individuals can die as a result.

Adenovirus is transmitted primarily via inhalation of aerosols or through contact with contaminated fomites. Transmission is also possible via the fecal-oral route but is less common. This type of transmission can occur in swimming pools that are not sufficiently chlorinated.

The Importance of Disinfection: Survival of Adenovirus on Surfaces and Transmission Potential Via Fomites

As a non-enveloped virus, adenovirus is fairly hardy and resistant to deactivation by environmental factors, such as high temperature and low humidity. Certain subtypes have been found to remain infectious when recovered from plastic and metal surfaces up to 49 days post-inoculation and to remain infectious at 28 days post-inoculation.

While adenovirus is mainly transmitted via aerosols, fomites (environmental surfaces) also play an important role. Studies have shown that droplets generated from a cough or sneeze can travel distances greater than 3 meters, potentially contaminating a wide range of surfaces.

While hardier than enveloped viruses, adenovirus is susceptible to inactivation by a range of chemical disinfectants. After adenovirus was dried onto metal carriers and exposed for a 5-minute contact time, a 99.99% reduction was achieved by a 250 ppm glutaraldehyde solution, a 500 ppm peracetic acid solution, and a 60% ethanol solution.

  • Gordon, Y. Jerold, et al. “Prolonged recovery of desiccated adenoviral serotypes 5, 8, and 19 from plastic and metal surfaces in vitro.”Ophthalmology 100.12 (1993): 1835-1840.
  • Rabenau, Holger F. et al. “Evaluation of a Virucidal Quantitative Carrier Test for Surface Disinfectants.” Ed. Jie Zheng. PLoS ONE 9.1 (2014): e86128. PMC. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.
  • Voss, J. D.Atkinson, R. L., and Dhurandhar, N. V. (2015Role of adenoviruses in obesityRev. Med. Virol.25379387
  • Zhao, Bin, Zhao Zhang, and Xianting Li. “Numerical study of the transport of droplets or particles generated by respiratory system indoors.” Building and Environment 40.8 (2005): 1032-1039.