COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Three more cases of adenovirus have been confirmed at the University of Maryland, College Park, attended by an 18-year-old who died of complications from the respiratory infection.
News outlets report the three new cases over Thanksgiving break bring the total number of cases at the school to nine, including freshman Olivia Paregol, who died Nov. 18.
University Health Center Director David McBride says the new cases didn’t require hospitalization.
McBride said the school learned Nov. 1 of what was then an “isolated case” of adenovirus. Ian Paregol says his daughter, who was immunosuppressed because of medication for Crohn’s disease, went to the health center the next day but wasn’t tested for adenovirus.
He questioned if her dorm’s mold outbreak could have exacerbated her illness, but the university says there’s no clear link.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told WTOP, in general, adenovirus is simply another form of the common cold and doesn’t usually pose risks to the general population.
“It’s an unusual virus and in an unusual situation,” he said, pointing to the fact that recent outbreaks have affected people with compromised immune systems, such as Paregol.
Another recent outbreak occurred in a New Jersey health center specifically for children with weakened immune systems. That outbreak led to the deaths of 11 children, Facui said.
“So it’s a virus that under most circumstances is just really rather typical common cold-type viruses that in certain individuals can turn into a tragic situation, even leading to death as we’ve seen here,” he said.
Adenovirus symptoms can include sore throat, bronchitis, pink eye and diarrhea. If you’re otherwise healthy and experience these symptoms, it may not be cause for alarm, Fauci said.
“There’s a lot of common-cold-type symptoms going around,” he said. “In general, if everyone went to an office of a physician because they had some sniffles, that would overburden the system.”
However, people who have compromised immune systems — either because of medication they’re taking or from a chronic health condition — should probably see their physician to be tested.
There is no underlying treatment for adenovirus; doctors can only treat the symptoms, Fauci said.
As for prevention, Fauci said people should take some “low-tech” steps, such as frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowds where there are sick people.
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