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Monday 28th May 2018

Common virus gets worse: study

15th October 2007

A common virus best known for causing colds and intestinal problems is causing more serious infections in the United States, researchers said.


Adenovirus 21 was extremely common, but was now posing a far greater danger to public health than previously thought possible, with a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital with it, a recent study said.

A new test for adenoviruses developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was used on 2,200 samples from 22 medical facilities, including five military ones.

They were trying to find out whether the adenoviruses, known for causing colds, bronchitis and stomach upsets, but also chronic airway obstruction, myocarditis and sudden infant deaths, were becoming more common, and which ones were more prevalent.

Gregory Gray of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa, who led the study, and his colleagues, were surprised at the prevalence of adenovirus 21, and the severe nature of the diseases it was causing.

Previous diagnostic tests were slow and could not easily differentiate the different strains of adenovirus. What's more, primary care physicians are unlikely to test people presenting with symptoms of 'a virus' to see exactly which virus was responsible.

Gray's team found that adenovirus 21 was found in 1% of specimens in 2004, but in 2.4% in 2006. And it was making people much sicker than the other strains. For example, 50% of severely immunosuppressed bone marrow transplant patients infected with the virus died.

They observed a "statistically significant" increasing trend of adenovirus type 21 detection over time, noting that half the patients infected were sick enough to be admitted to hospital.

Catherine Laughlin of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the test would need to be turned into a commercially marketable form, but that having it available might encourage companies to develop better drugs and vaccines against adenoviruses.

The US Department of Defense recently awarded a contract for a new vaccine against adenovirus types 4 and 7, as military personnel are more susceptible to common infections.




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