Warning about adenovirus illnesses in U.P.

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Public Health, Delta & Menominee Counties, Marquette County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS) are investigating a cluster of severe respiratory illnesses associated with adenovirus infection in individuals residing in Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula. Currently, all six of the people with confirmed adenovirus infection have been hospitalized, two of whom have received intensive care. Additional reports of illness are being investigated and testing is ongoing to more fully describe the virus that is causing the illness.

Adenovirus is a common cause of cold-like illnesses seen every year, but it can also result in a more serious illness, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.  These more significant infections occur most frequently in those with immune compromising conditions or underlying respiratory disease.

Just like the flu, it is easy to pass adenovirus infections from person to person through coughing and sneezing. People can also come in contact with the virus by touching surfaces where the virus has landed, such as doorknobs and other hard surfaces, and then touching the moist parts of their eyes, nose or mouth.

As during flu season, the health officials are reminding people that, when large public gathering places such as schools, stores, churches, etc. are easy places to spread infections.

Several – but not all – of the confirmed cases with adenovirus reported the Island Resort and Casino in Hannahville, MI, as a common exposure.  The casino has ben undertaking extra cleaning measures to reduce the possibility of transmission in that setting.

Adenovirus is a respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness. Although less common, people with weakened immune systems, or existing respiratory or cardiac disease, are at higher risk of developing severe illness from an adenovirus infection. The documented incubation period for a respiratory infection due to adenovirus is 2-14 days. Adenovirus is transmitted similarly to that of other respiratory viruses, such as close personal contact with an infected person, coughing/sneezing, touching objects or surfaces contaminated with adenovirus, or less commonly through stool or water. 

Public health encourages people to use the same prevention strategies recommended throughout the year and especially during cold and flu season:

  • stay home when you are ill
  • cough into your sleeve
  • wash your hands frequently (especially before eating)
  • contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your symptoms

Individuals who have lowered ability to fight infections, have respiratory problems like COPD and asthma, and those who smoke are at a higher risk for more severe illness when they get respiratory illnesses and should aim to reduce their exposure to sick individuals.  At this time, there is no vaccine available to prevent adenovirus infections.

People ill with respiratory symptoms should contact their healthcare provider if they are concerned about the severity of their symptoms.

Local public health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will continue to monitor the situation.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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