What is Adenovirus? How Does the Adenovirus Rapid Test Kit Work?
Today, adenoviruses are among the most common pathogens affecting human health around the world. Named after its initial isolation from human adenoid tissues in 1953 by Rowe and his colleagues, adenoviruses are ubiquitous pathogens causing a broad spectrum of clinical illnesses from mild or asymptomatic infections to severe disease and death. In fact, among the 100 serologically different types of adenovirus that have so far been identified, more than 50 have been observed to cause respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurological, or urinary disease in humans. Although adenovirus infections cause self-limiting disease in most healthy adults and children, they can be consequential depending on the overall health of the patient and the responsible serotype. Read along to learn more about adenoviruses, their clinical presentation, diagnosis, and the best ways to protect yourself.
What are Adenoviruses?
Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are medium-sized nonenveloped viruses with a double-stranded DNA genome of the family Adenoviridae. Adenoviruses have a wide range of vertebrate hosts, including dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and wild birds. In fact, the family Adenoviridae is classified into the genera of avian adenoviruses (aviadenoviruses) and mammalian adenoviruses (mastadenovirus), depending on the affected population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among mammalian adenoviruses, seven species with approximately 60 genotypes of adenoviruses are known to cause human infection.
Adenoviruses primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets. However, they have also been observed to spread via fecal routes, blood, and aerosols. While they are simple viruses that rely heavily on the host cell for survival and replication, their stability against chemical or physical agents and adverse environmental conditions allows adenoviruses to survive for prolonged periods within the environment. While outbreaks are most likely to emerge during late winter, spring, and early summer, their circulation does not demonstrate a clear seasonality. Thus, adenovirus cases may occur sporadically and remain endemic throughout the year.
Although adenoviruses more commonly affect children between the age group of 6 months to 2 years, outbreaks of human adenoviruses (HAdV) have often been observed among adult populations in closed or crowded settings such as dormitories, healthcare facilities, and military bases. According to Binder et al. (2017), the National Adenovirus Type Reporting System has reported that serotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 14 accounted for around 85.5% of all adenovirus cases reported between 2003-2016 in the United States.
What are the symptoms of infection with Adenoviruses?
While many cases of adenovirus are asymptomatic, different types of adenoviruses have been recognized as the etiologic mediators of multiple syndromes within various organ systems. The respiratory system is most commonly affected by adenoviruses, which often results in symptoms resembling the flu or the common cold, which may include cough, fever, sore throat, conjunctivitis, and runny nose. Severe respiratory disease with complications such as pneumonia and respiratory failure can occur in people with weak or compromised immunity and conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease. Adenovirus infections in the gastrointestinal tract may cause acute gastroenteritis, which can present with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Especially in immunocompromised individuals, the spectrum of disease may be much more extensive with potentially fatal consequences. In such cases, adenovirus infections may affect the nervous system and cause complications such as hemorrhagic cystitis, neurologic disease, and encephalitis. It can also cause disseminated infections among different systems and lead to multi-organ disease.
How can you test for infection with Adenoviruses?
As a significant portion of adenovirus cases are asymptomatic, it is common for people to shed the virus for weeks without any knowledge concerning their infection status. Moreover, symptomatic adenovirus cases can present symptoms common to various other infections such as rotavirus, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19. Thus, diagnostic methods are commonly used to assist in the diagnosis of adenovirus cases, documentation of adenovirus outbreaks, and the development of novel methods for testing, treatment, and vaccination against adenoviruses.
Various diagnostic methods, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), virus isolation, antigen detection, and serology, are available for the surveillance and diagnosis of adenovirus infections. Alongside laboratory-based testing, rapid antigen and antibody tests, such as our Adenovirus Rapid Test Kit, can assist in the diagnosis of adenovirus infections by detecting antigens or antibodies specific to adenoviruses in a wide range of specimens including blood, urine, and stool, along with nasal, ocular, or nasopharyngeal swabs. These tests come in a simple lateral flow test format and deliver results in no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
How can you protect yourself against Adenoviruses?
Currently, only a single adenovirus vaccine is developed to be received exclusively by US military personnel. Containing a live virus, the vaccine has been designed to provide protection against adenovirus types 4 and 7. However, the vaccine has not yet been approved for use in the general population. Its impact outside of the designated groups in the military has not yet been tested, and there is currently no data concerning its efficacy among the immunocompromised people in the general public.
There is currently no specific treatment for adenovirus infections. However, supportive treatment such as over-the-counter pain and fever reducers are often used to relieve the symptoms. In addition, everyday habits such as washing your hands frequently, avoiding contact with your eyes, face, and nose with unwashed hands, catching your sneezes with a napkin or your elbow, and avoiding sharing used cups or utensils can help reduce the risk of infection with adenoviruses. Finally, preventive measures such as chlorination of swimming pools can help facilitate hygiene in shared spaces and prevent outbreaks of adenoviruses.
Binder, A. M., Biggs, H. M., Haynes, A. K., Chommanard, C., Lu, X., Erdman, D. D., Watson, J. T., & Gerber, S. I. (2017). Human Adenovirus Surveillance — United States, 2003–2016. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(39), 1039–1042. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6639a2
Rein, D. T., Breidenbach, M., & Curiel, D. T. (2006). Current developments in adenovirus-based cancer gene therapy. Future Oncology, 2(1), 137–143. https://doi.org/10.2217/147966184.108.40.206