To All Members of the Campus Community:
This notice of an observed increase in adenovirus activity follows messaging last week about community transmission of all types of respiratory illnesses, and includes reminders about how to remain vigilant and protect yourself, your friends and your family, in advance of the upcoming Thanksgiving break.
Severe illness with adenovirus infection is unusual, primarily occurring in the very young or in immunocompromised individuals, but it has been reported recently in our community in several otherwise healthy individuals. Campus surveillance systems are also suggesting high transmission of mild cases of adenovirus, a common cause of seasonal colds at this time of year. Findings from testing done at UHS and at Michigan Medicine indicate that the campus community is currently experiencing a detected outbreak of adenovirus. The University of Michigan, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Washtenaw County Health Department, continues to evaluate and respond to these cases.
Adenovirus is one of several respiratory illnesses that the U-M Public Health Response team has been closely monitoring throughout the fall term. It is a common respiratory virus that typically causes symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat and fever, but may also include cough and even gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea. It is spread through contact with droplets from the nose and throat either directly or from contaminated surfaces. Symptoms typically last a few days to several weeks, and no specific treatment is available. An adenovirus vaccine is currently not available; prevention is the best defense.
What to do if you suspect you may have adenovirus:
- Stay home when sick. If you do not feel well or have new symptoms, including a cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, fever, or fatigue, you should avoid gatherings and stay home. Everyone is encouraged to have a supply of COVID-19 antigen tests, but symptomatic individuals should stay home, even if COVID-19 testing is negative.
- Watch for new or worsening symptoms. A stiff neck, worsening headache, high fever or shortness of breath could indicate that a mild case may be progressing into something more serious.
- Seek medical advice if your symptoms become severe or if mild to moderate symptoms do not improve with fluids, rest and time. Students can obtain advice from a nurse 24 hours a day by calling 734-764-8320. This is a free and convenient option for medical advice without leaving your home. You can also schedule an appointment with a UHS clinician for in-person or telehealth visits. Faculty and staff should consult with their physician or can seek an evaluation through Occupational Health Services (OHS) by calling 734-764-8021.
How to minimize the likelihood of getting infected by adenovirus and other respiratory illnesses:
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially after touching public surfaces.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Routinely clean surfaces that are frequently touched with bleach-containing cleaners or wipes (adenovirus responds quickly to bleach but is resistant to other disinfectants).
- Avoid sharing personal items such as beverage glasses, utensils or towels.
- Consider wearing a mask when around others for enhanced personal protection. Well- fitting masks and high-filtration respirators (e.g., N-95 mask) remain effective tools to significantly reduce the likelihood of acquiring all respiratory viruses. Free, high-quality masks are available at CSTP campus locations.
- If you have not already done so, get a seasonal flu vaccine and the updated omicron booster for COVID-19.
Please take care and stay healthy this Thanksgiving break.
Robert D. Ernst, M.D.
Chief Health Officer
Associate Vice President of Student Life
Laraine Washer, M.D.
Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Michigan Medicine