Adenovirus: Epidemiology, Global Spread of Novel Serotypes, and Advances in Treatment and Prevention

Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2016 Aug;37(4):586-602. doi: 10.1055/s-0036-1584923. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Adenoviruses (AdVs) are DNA viruses that typically cause mild infections involving the upper or lower respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, or conjunctiva. Rare manifestations of AdV infections include hemorrhagic cystitis, hepatitis, hemorrhagic colitis, pancreatitis, nephritis, or meningoencephalitis. AdV infections are more common in young children, due to lack of humoral immunity. Epidemics of AdV infection may occur in healthy children or adults in closed or crowded settings (particularly military recruits). The disease is more severe and dissemination is more likely in patients with impaired immunity (e.g., organ transplant recipients, human immunodeficiency virus infection). Fatality rates for untreated severe AdV pneumonia or disseminated disease may exceed 50%. More than 50 serotypes of AdV have been identified. Different serotypes display different tissue tropisms that correlate with clinical manifestations of infection. The predominant serotypes circulating at a given time differ among countries or regions, and change over time. Transmission of novel strains between countries or across continents and replacement of dominant viruses by new strains may occur. Treatment of AdV infections is controversial, as prospective, randomized therapeutic trials have not been conducted. Cidofovir is the drug of choice for severe AdV infections, but not all patients require treatment. Live oral vaccines are highly efficacious in reducing the risk of respiratory AdV infection and are in routine use in the military in the United States, but currently are not available to civilians.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae Infections* / drug therapy
  • Adenoviridae Infections* / epidemiology
  • Adenoviridae Infections* / virology
  • Adenoviridae* / classification
  • Adenovirus Infections, Human
  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Cidofovir
  • Cytosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Cytosine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel
  • Organophosphonates / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / virology
  • Serogroup
  • Viral Vaccines / supply & distribution


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Organophosphonates
  • Viral Vaccines
  • Cytosine
  • Cidofovir