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.
David McBride, MD
Director, University Health Center