A virus similar to the flu that may not be tested for
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (WPEC) - It feels similar to the flu and it can kill like the flu, but it’s not the flu. It’s adenovirus and most hospitals don’t test for it. It’s another virus adding to the misery this severe flu season and it’s tough to identify.
Dr. Peter Lamelas, executive director of MD Urgent Care Now says the flu virus can live up to a day on a surface like a table, but the adenovirus can live on the same table for a month. He says adenovirus thrives during the end of flu season.
Mother of two Elisabeth Sanchez does all she can to take care of her children.
“I try to feed them properly, Vitamin D, Vitamin C,” said Sanchez. She is paying attention to the flu epidemic and doesn’t want her kids to get sick. However, she wasn’t aware of the adenovirus.
Adenovirus is something we all need to be aware of, according to Lamelas. He says up to 20 percent of infections he’ll see this flu season are actually adenovirus, not the flu.
“We don’t have the capability to test for adenovirus and there is no treatment specifically for adenovirus,” said Lamelas, who adds that only a specialized laboratory can receive and test for the virus.
There are 52 different strains of adenovirus. Some strains spread through a cough, others through bodies of water. Lamelas says 80 percent of the strains result in symptoms of the common cold, like a runny nose or sore throat. Other strains result in bloodshot eyes and more.
“There is an adenovirus 14 which is called the killer cold,” said Lamelas.
One in 20 people who catch adenovirus 14 dies, according to Lamelas. He says it turns deadly when there is a secondary infection like pneumonia or a pulmonary infection. Lamelas says there are two vaccines for the virus but they are only available for the military.
“However, there is no vaccine for adenovirus 14, the killer cold,” said Lamelas.
While there is no treatment specifically for adenovirus, Lamelas says you treat its symptoms to beat the virus.
“We make sure that secondary infection is not going to kill you,” said Lamelas.