Adenoviruses, first described in the 1950s, are associated with conjunctivitis, upper respiratory illness, pneumonia and gastrointestinal disease. Severe illness can occur in newborns or elderly patients, but is generally not life-threatening in healthy adults.
However, a new variant of Ad14 has caused some 140 illnesses in Oregon, New York, Washington state and Texas, said the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
In May 2006, a New York infant died 12 days after a full-term pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery. In February 2007, an outbreak linked to adenovirus infection was reported among military trainees at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Out of 423 respiratory specimens collected and tested, 63 percent tested positive for adenovirus; 44 percent were serotyped and 90 percent of those serotyped were Ad14.
In April 2007, a Portland-area hospital detected 31 cases of Ad, with seven dying of severe pneumonia. In May 2007, Washington state officials reported four hospitalized patients had the same mutated virus and one died.
Control of adenovirus outbreaks can be challenging because the viruses can be shed in both respiratory secretions and feces and can persist for weeks on environmental surfaces, the CDC said.