Adenovirus Infections | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of an Adenovirus infection?

Most adenovirus infections are mild with few symptoms. While each child may experience symptoms differently, the most common include:

Respiratory infections

Intestinal tract infections

  • abrupt onset of watery diarrhea
  • fever
  • abdominal tenderness
  • swelling of the abdomen

While not common, there are some complications that can be caused by an adenovirus. They include:

Chronic lung disease

  • very rare
  • may develop if a child develops pneumonia from adenovirus
  • this strain of the virus has a 10 percent mortality rate

>Severe infections

Children with weakened immune systems are at risk


  • when one part of the intestine slides over another section, like a telescope, causing an intestinal blockage
  • most often occurs in babies
  • is a medical emergency
  • symptoms include bloody stool, vomiting, abdominal swelling, knees flexed to chest, loud cries from pain, weakness and lethargy

Chronic infection of the tonsils and adenoids

  • lymph-like gland that is located in the back of the nose and throat
  • when your child retains the adenovirus for a long time without major symptoms

What causes an adenovirus infection?

Adenoviruses are contagious, which means you child can pass them on to other children. The type of infection determines how it spreads.

Respiratory infections 

  • coming in contact with infectious material from another individual or object
  • secretions from the respiratory tract may contain the virus
  • can survive for many hours on objects such as doorknobs, hard surfaces and toys
  • symptoms may develop 2 to 14 days after exposure

Intestinal tract infections

  • usually occurs by fecal-oral contact
  • the result of poor hand-washing or from consuming contaminated food or water
  • symptoms may develop 3 to 10 days after exposure
    usually occurs in children younger than 4 years old and may last one to two weeks