As if the cold wasn’t mysterious enough, we now have multiple infections caused by the strange, many-faceted virus called adenoviruses–related to the looming potential epidemic “bird flu.” A new technique is helping to clear up some of the secrets of the adenovirus. The technique is genotyping, which involves “sequencing of highly variable sections of the adenovirus hexon gene to identify the adenovirus strain,” is dramatically faster (2 days) than the blood work–which took weeks–that was previously the only way to know what you were dealing with. As these viruses can be dangerous and are extremely contagious, speedy diagnosis is of paramount importance.
Where did these viruses come from? Reptiles, dogs, and birds/chickens are known to carry them. It’s the jump to the human organism that’s so worrisome. The problem with these viruses is that early symptoms mimic those of a dozen other common illnesses like colds and flu that involve the respiratory system, eyes, nose, throat, even stomach (diarrhea is common in some varieties). And kids can have them with mild symptoms. So doctors who are not aware might be inclined to dismiss a worried parent’s complaint.