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Adenovirus Genetics and Definition

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: lrohner•updated: 9/30/2010

Are you looking for information on adenovirus genetics? If so, read on to learn more about this type of virus, how it is transmitted and the conditions it may cause.

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    Adenovirus genetics can be used to explain how these viruses develop and how they cause the conditions they cause. This type of virus is a nondeveloped, icosahedral, medium-sized viruses that are made up of a double-stranded linear DNA genome and a nucleocapsid. There are 53 different serotypes described in humans, and these are responsible for approximately five to ten percent of child upper respiratory infections, as well as many adult infections.

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    Genetics of Adenoviruses

    The makeup of the adenovirus genome, theoretically, allows it to carry roughlyl 22 to 40 genes. This virus is much larger than other Baltimore group viruses, but it is still considered a rather simple virus that relies heavily on the host cell for replication and survival.

    Identifying this type of virus can be done through antigen detection, virus isolation, polymerase chain reaction assay, and serology. This type of virus is typed most often through the use of neutralization and/or hemagglutination-inhibition with type specific antisera. They can also be typed using hexon gene sequence molecular methods. This type of virus can be excreted for long periods of time.

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    This type of virus is transmitted is a number of ways. The most common methods of transmission include:

    • Saliva
    • Cough
    • Surfaces
    • Needles
    • Sexual contact
    • Air
    • Fecal-oral route
    • Blood
    • Blood transfusions
    • Mother to fetus

    Infection-control practices, good hygiene, chlorinating pools, and certain vaccines can be used to prevent the transmission of most adenoviruses, however, vaccines are not widely available anymore. This type of virus is highly contagious. Understanding the genetics of adenoviruses can help to prevent transmission.

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    Most Common Conditions Caused by this Virus

    This type of virus can be responsible for a variety of infections. These include:

    • Upper respiratory infection
    • Croup
    • Conjunctivitis
    • Ear infections
    • Viral meningitis
    • Tonsillitis
    • Gastroenteritis
    • Bronchiolitis
    • Encephalitis
    • Pneumonia
    • A type of urinary tract infection known as hemorrhagic cystitis

    Most patients who experience an adenovirus-related infection or illness will have a full recovery by themselves. However, patients that are immunodeficient may experience severe illness, and sometimes death. In rare cases, these infections may be fatal for healthy people. The symptoms ultimately determine the treatment. For example, if the patient has a fever, they may be encouraged by their doctor to take acetaminophen. If the patient has conjunctivitis, they may be given antibiotic eyedrops because it is not immediately clear whether an eye infection is viral or bacterial, and to help prevent a bacterial infection, secondary to the current infection. Other steps may be taken to try and prevent any possible complications that could result from the infection. As of today, there are no virus-specific therapies.

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    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Adenoviruses. Retrieved on September 5, 2010 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    KidsHealth from Nemours. (2010). About Adenovirus Infections. Retrieved on September 5, 2010 from KidsHealth from Nemours: