There is a surge in prolonged flu-like illness in children; watch out for these signs and symptoms of adenovirus


There is a spike in flu-like symptoms in children. Doctors across hospitals in India are reporting an increase in adenovirus cases. Many are comparing it to a pandemic-like situation. Hospitals in Kolkata, Mumbai are reporting a significant rise in severe cases, where many require hospitalization or even ICU care. While it is more prevalent in certain states right now, Infectious diseases physician and researcher Dr Trupti Gilada warns that others should not take it lightly.
Dr Soonu Udani, Medical Director, NH SRCC Children’s Hospital, Mumbai is concerned with the number of hospitalisations, “There are many children being admitted with pneumonia who show adenovirus on the PCR from the lungs. These are very sick children with prolonged illness and need prolonged artificial ventilation. Many are showing signs of severe lung damage even on recovery. Our patient profile too is of prolonged cough for 4-6 weeks and high fever lasting for over a week. Most are not tested for the virus. Masking and cough hygiene is the only prevention.”

Most of the times adenovirus infection is treated with symptomatic treatment and the symptoms settle within a few days, however, this time the virus is showing prolonged symptoms. Some children are also facing complications after getting discharged, reminding doctors of long COVID.
Many are unaware that in 2018, Bharat Biotech had initiated work on producing an adenoviral vaccine, however the work was shelved when they started developing Covaxin.

What is adenovirus?

Adenovirus is a viral disease, which spreads by coming in contact with an infected person. It is quite similar to coronavirus and can spread through air, via coughing or sneezing. Moreover, if the virus settles on a surface and someone touches it, that person can be infected as well. Its symptoms are also quite similar to COVID.

Symptoms of adenovirus

Adenovirus presents cold or flu-like symptoms. Some common symptoms are fever, dryness of throat, and acute bronchitis.

Some patients may complain of symptoms like pneumonia, redness of the eyes, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Experts say there is a risk of bladder infection too.

What should parents do?

“Any persistent symptoms must be seen by a doctor. Persistent fever for more than seven days of flu. Breathlessness is a danger sign. Disturbed sleep due to coughing may require some symptomatic treatment. Emphasis that cough syrups have little benefit and should be used only when cough is troublesome,” shares Dr Udani.


Prevention plan is similar to what was advised during COVID.

One must wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Touching eyes, nose and mouth should be avoided
Avoid getting in contact with a sick person
Isolate yourself when you are sick
Use mask or tissues while coughing or sneezing

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