The Adenovirus And Infants

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An adenovirus can be any one of approximately 57 different types. They are often responsible for everything from sore throats to diarrhea. Although adenoviruses can infect anyone, they are generally present in children and infants ranging in age from six months to two years. Because of the virus' highly contagious nature, children in daycare and pre-school suffer the most.

To date, there is no single medicine that is completely effective against the virus. For this reason, healthcare providers concentrate on treating the symptoms. Since fever often accompanies an adenovirus infection, over-the-counter remedies are sometimes the most effective. In the case of adenoviral conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, doctors will prescribe eye drops or ointments to ease the discomfort and hasten recovery.

Several strains of the virus infect the respiratory system. Studies performed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) show a correlation between location and viral respiratory illnesses. Children and infants who live in urban environments have much greater instances of adenovirus infection than those who reside in the suburbs.

Tests performed on 500 infants living in urban dwellings detected 4.8 percent infected with the virus, while only 0.7 percent of their suburban counterparts tested positive. Some possible theories for the elevated infections in urban settings were vehicle exhaust and industrial pollution.

The immediate effects of adenoviruses are usually not serious. Some parents are not even aware that their infants have suffered an infection. Repeated infections, however, have the potential to alter the development of airways and lungs. This, in many cases, leads to reduced lung function or asthma.

In 2010, it was estimated that 20 million people in the United States had asthma; nine million of these were children. Asthma is a disease in which the airways become inflamed and swollen, causing breathing difficulty and in severe cases, death. Thousands of Americans each year die from complications due to asthma.

While asthma can strike anyone, infants, children, and adults of African and Puerto Rican descent statistically have a higher rate of this illness. Scientists are still unsure as to the reason for these elevated numbers. Some believe it is genetic, while others blame the environment. It should be noted however, that a large percentage of Africans and Puerto Ricans live in urban environments where pollution is far more prevalent.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, more asthma related deaths occur in countries with low to middle incomes. The reasoning behind these figures is lack of affordable healthcare. Ironically, the more developed, westernized countries have a higher rate of asthma symptoms.

The United States, Australia and New Zealand are among the countries with the highest instances of asthma; Eastern Europe, Indonesia and Ethiopia rate the lowest.

While adenoviruses which contribute most to asthma symptoms are not treatable, they are preventable. Washing hands thoroughly, disinfecting surfaces, and covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing are all effective means of avoiding and stopping the spread of the virus. An ounce of prevention is always better than a trip to the pharmacy.