A virus being dubbed the “killer cold” is on the minds of doctors coast-to-coast. The “Adenovirus 14” has caused death in 10 people in parts of the
“The number of cases is still quite small and so I don't think that there's any feeling that this is going to turn into an outbreak that affects the whole country or anything like that,” says Dr. John Treanor, an infectious disease expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The adenovirus is among the hundreds of viruses which can cause the common cold. The majority of common cold viruses are called “rhinoviruses” because they develop in the nose. Adenoviruses less common and develop in the adenoids of the nose.
“And it's actually one of the viruses that's actually not the most common cause of the common cold,” says Treanor who adds the adenovirus is often accompanied by conjunctivitis (pink eye) and a sore throat as well as respiratory illness.
“So that fact that these viruses can sometimes cause severe respiratory infections is not new, people have known that for a long time,” says Treanor.
In fact, adenovirus strains 7 and 4 were first discovered among military barracks decades ago. The U.S. Military developed vaccines for both strains at the time to keep the virus from spreading. However, the Centers for Disease Control is now following the strain called "AD-14". The AD-14 strain has also been around for years but it's taken a different turn recently. Doctors are not certain why the virus is now causing potentially-deadly pneumonia.
“And what we've seen recently is that it's more prevalent than it used to be and it seems that in certain situations it seems to be more severe than it used to be,” says Dr. Ann Falsey, an infectious disease specialist at Rochester General Hospital.
The cases have been tracked for the last few years. While the number is small, the CDC is now asking doctors across the country to look for it in their patients.
“I think it's good for people in the medical community to just keep it in keep in mind, if they start seeing a large cluster of pneumonia and they just not getting the routine bacterial pathogens to keep this in mind,” says Dr. Falsey.