Adenovirus: Director's Letter to Campus

December 12, 2018

Dear campus community,

As many of you begin your travels home for the break, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of important precautions you should continue to take after leaving campus as we remain in the midst of cold, flu and virus season. There have been 35 confirmed cases of UMD students who have tested positive for Adenovirus by the University Health Center or by an outside physician, and at this time we are not aware of any students who are currently hospitalized. Ten of these have been confirmed as Adenovirus 7 by the CDC.

It is important that we all consider how we can help stop the spread of illnesses and keep ourselves and others healthy.

  • If you need to travel and currently have a fever, I urge you to consider not using public transportation. Public transportation, including planes, buses and trains, are an easy source of illness transmission. In addition, if you are not currently sick and will be taking public transportation, remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often to avoid catching a virus from someone else.
  • If you are sick, stay home and in bed. Avoid crowded places, such as large gatherings, to prevent spreading your illness to others. In particular, avoid friends or family who have underlying medical problems when you are or believe you may be sick. If you are attending any gatherings or parties, remember to avoid sharing food, utensils, cups and water bottles. 
  • If you have not yet gotten a flu shot, I urge you to do so during your time off. Flu season lasts through March, so it is not too late.
  • Please take your symptoms seriously. If you have chronic medical problems like asthma, diabetes or illnesses that lower your immune system or take medicine that lowers your immune system, it is vitally important not to ignore flu-like symptoms (high fever and cough/sore throat and vomiting/diarrhea) and to visit a physician within 48 hours of developing symptoms.

As a reminder, we have a series of resources on the University Health Center website regarding Adenovirus, and will continue to post updates there. In addition, for students who currently live on-campus, please remember to follow the instructions provided by the Departments of Resident Life and Residential Facilities so they can successfully execute their expanded cleaning program this winter break to include disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces inside student rooms.

Sincerely,

David McBride, MD
Director, University Health Center

 


November 30, 2018

Dear campus community,

The University Health Center continues to see many ill patients on a daily basis with cold and flu-like symptoms. While this volume is typical this time of year, I urge every member of our community to take preventive measures to stay healthy and be particularly vigilant with the incidents of Adenovirus on campus.

Adenovirus Prevention Flyer- November 2018

In addition to typical cases of cold and flu, we are now aware of 22 confirmed cases of UMD students with Adenovirus (by nasal PCR, the most reliable test). We have been informed of a number of students who had been sick earlier in November, but have recovered, and these are included in the count. Although Adenoviruses are common causes of colds found in significant numbers of people this time of year and are not dangerous to the general population, the results of five specimens have returned from the CDC and four are Adenovirus 7. One test was inconclusive and additional testing is being performed. This strain may cause more severe illness, particularly for those with chronic medical problems like asthma, diabetes or illnesses that lower their immune system or those who take medicine that lowers their immune system.

For these individuals, it is vitally important not to ignore flu-like symptoms (high fever and cough/sore throat and vomiting/diarrhea) and to visit a physician within 48 hours of developing symptoms.

Departments across campus will continue their increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces in response to this situation.

Please visit our Adenovirus Resources page for additional information: health.umd.edu/adenovirus-resources.

Sincerely,

David McBride, MD
Director, University Health Center


November 26, 2018

Dear campus community,

I’m writing today to provide an update on Adenovirus on our campus. We received reports of three additional confirmed cases of UMD students testing positive for Adenovirus over the Thanksgiving break. None of these new cases has required hospitalization to our knowledge.

Please remember that Adenoviruses are common causes of colds and are normally found in significant numbers of people at this time of year. There are strains that can cause more serious illness, but not every individual with an Adenovirus infection will follow a complicated course. Those with chronic medical problems like asthma, diabetes or illnesses that lower their immune system or those who take medicine that lowers their immune system, are more susceptible to a complicated Adenovirus course. For these individuals, it is vitally important not to ignore flu-like symptoms (high fever and cough/sore throat and vomiting/diarrhea) and to visit a physician within 48 hours of developing symptoms.

As the majority of Adenovirus strains are not dangerous to the general population and because there is, unfortunately, no specific treatment, when a member of our community visits the Health Center with related symptoms, Adenovirus testing will not routinely be performed. Rather, testing will be reserved for situations in which the test results may make a difference to the care of the individual. Such situations would include those who may need hospitalization, those who have clinical or x-ray proven pneumonia, and those with underlying illness who may have a more complicated course with Adenovirus (severe asthma, diabetes, immunosuppression). This approach has been developed in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health and Prince George's County Health Department.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for Adenovirus for individuals who are not hospitalized and there is no vaccine that is available to civilians. Therefore, the most important actions that our community can take are those that prevent Adenovirus infection. We urge our community to continue to follow the precautions sent to campus regarding effective prevention techniques during flu and virus season.

We continue to work closely with the state and county health departments to monitor new cases and coordinate on testing. Departments across campus, including the Health Center, Residential Facilities, Facilities Management, Department of Transportation Services, Athletics, RecWell and The Stamp, remain vigilant in increasing cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms. Faculty have been asked to be flexible in allowing students to make decisions that are best for their health without necessarily providing documentation of their illness from a medical practitioner.

Some media reports have raised whether there is a connection between exposure to mold and Adenovirus. While it is true that mold can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and make individuals more susceptible to viral infections in general, the cases of Adenovirus-associated illness on campus have been seen both in students living on and off campus and among students in residence halls affected by mold and residence halls not affected. As such, it appears that there is no consistent connection between mold exposure and the incidents of Adenovirus infection affecting UMD students. In addition, as reported in the Washington Post, “the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said no link exists between mold and Adenovirus.”

To find all of our communications to campus to-date, as well as a series of FAQs and a timeline, please visit our Adenovirus Resources website. Going forward, the Health Center website will continue to be a resource where we will post updated information, including if we learn of other future Adenovirus-related hospitalizations.

Thank you for staying vigilant to help reduce the spread of flu and viruses on our campus.

Sincerely,

David McBride, MD
Director, University Health Center


 

November 20, 2018

Dear campus community,

I am sad to share that a University of Maryland student recently passed away from Adenovirus associated illness. We offer our condolences during this difficult time.

While we are normally prohibited from sharing medical information publicly, we have been authorized by a family member to share this news and urge others to take seriously this strain of a common virus.

Adenoviruses are common causes of colds, but there are strains that can cause more serious illness. Over the past couple of weeks we have shared guidance on preventive measures our community should take during this flu and virus season and we urge our community to follow these guidelines.

We learned of an isolated case of a student with Adenovirus on November 1. Since then, we have been closely monitoring for cases in coordination with the Maryland Department of Health and Prince George's County Health Department, by testing students at the Health Center and advising testing to facilities where ill students have been admitted. The Health Center staff has been on high-alert and we have reached out to medical facilities in the area to heighten awareness of this illness.

Since then, there have been reports of five additional cases of students with confirmed Adenovirus associated illness. On November 19, we learned that the testing of one specimen sent to the CDC revealed Adenovirus 7, a strain that may cause more severe illness.

The treatment for these types of illnesses generally includes rest, plenty of fluids and fever-reducing medicine. Unfortunately, there is no specific medication to treat this infection in a non-hospitalized individual. However, vigilance is extremely important for those with chronic medical problems like asthma, diabetes or illnesses that lower your immune system or if you take medicine that lowers your immune system. It is vitally important not to ignore flu-like symptoms (high fever and cough/sore throat and vomiting/diarrhea ) and to visit a physician within 48 hours of developing symptoms.

In addition to communications to our campus encouraging our community to take preventive measures on this and other viruses, departments across campus began increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces early in November in response to this situation.

More information can be found on the University Health Center website.

Sincerely,

David McBride, MD
Director, University Health Center

University of Maryland

The Flagship Institution of the University System of Maryland
College Park MD 20742-5035, USA
Phone: 301.405.1000