Adenovirus in children: 7 questions and answers

Two years after the epidemic, families didn’t even have time to breathe before other concerns were expressed. A wave of severe hepatitis that mainly affects children under 12 has confused experts. The disease has already been confirmed as a cause of death by health authorities and has been reported in more than 20 countries. The exact cause of this larger-than-usual record is still unknown and scientists around the world are already rallying for answers.

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One issue that caught the attention of physicians was the recent positive testing for adenovirus 41 in children diagnosed with severe hepatitis.

. And now?

Although there is still no established relationship and the presence of adenovirus in the body of these children can only be a coincidence, unrelated to hepatitis, so far, the problem is facing parents and mothers. Perhaps you or even your child have had an adenovirus infection before and don’t even know it. To help you better understand, we’ve talked to experts who have answered key questions about this type of virus.

What is adenovirus?

Adenoviruses are actually a family of viruses with this term. They usually infect cells in the airways, causing symptoms of shortness of breath. They often affect the intestinal tract. There are more than 50 types of adenoviruses.

How does adenovirus affect children?

Human adenoviruses are a frequent cause of the common cold. These can cause conjunctivitis, croup, bronchitis, pneumonia and intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of adenovirus infection are the same as a cold, e.g.

Cough, runny nose, sneezing, headache and sore throat

. Adenoviral conjunctivitis also involves eye irritation and eye discharge. When it affects the digestive tract, the baby can be

Abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea


Can adenovirus be serious?

It is usually a benign disease. It rarely leads to any kind of more serious concern. There are virtually no reports of adenovirus deaths in healthy children. However, the evolution of the clinical picture may require hospitalization, which is more common in immunocompromised infants, among others, in transplantation. In this case, there may be further complications, such as respiratory failure – not because the virus is more aggressive, but because the immunity is very low.

How to prevent adenovirus infection?

Adenoviruses are transmitted through contaminated secretions, whether through saliva when talking, coughing, sneezing, putting your hand over your mouth or nose and then touching someone’s hand … they can also be transmitted through feces.

So prevention is the same as we use for other viruses

– And if we’ve learned one thing intensely in the last two years, that’s it, isn’t it? You already know: wash your hands well, especially after using the bathroom, but several times a day, use gel alcohol, avoid sharing personal items, keep surfaces healthy, be careful about toys that children put in their mouths and Avoid sharing. In addition to always sanitizing them.

How is adenovirus infection treated?

There are no antivirals for adenoviruses. All that is done is to treat only the symptoms, always with the guidance of a pediatrician, and wait. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks.

What is the relationship between adenovirus and severe hepatitis in children?

For now, only theories exist and no relationship has yet been determined. What is known is that a portion of sick children with severe hepatitis tested positive for adenovirus type 41. In all of these cases of hepatitis, there is still no reliable scientific explanation as to whether adenoviruses are involved or what the mechanism is. The way is to keep an eye on your child’s symptoms and wait for the next study.

Source: Renato Kefori , Pediatrician and Infectious Diseases Specialist, President of the Scientific Department of Immunization of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP); Nelson Douglas Eisenbaum, Pediatrician and Neonatologist, Member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

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