Military Type Respiratory Illness Found in Civilians

Human Adenovirus Type 4 HAdV-4 is the only human adenovirus classified with military outbreaks of acute respiratory illness

military diving out of plane

Why is a unique adenovirus strain most often found near military facilities being discovered in civilians in the northeast part of the USA?

The increased number of Human Adenovirus type 4 (HAdV-4) respiratory infection cases caught the attention of a team of researchers, reported the Emerging Infectious Diseases.

This research suggests that the role of this HAdV type in civilian respiratory illness might have been underestimated.

HAdV-4 is the only human adenovirus classified within species E, in association with military outbreaks of acute respiratory illness (ARD) and Ocular disease, in both pediatric and adult patients.

These diseases have demonstrated leading roles in febrile respiratory illnesses at military recruit training facilities.

However, no licensed drug or vaccine is currently available to the civilian population. 

These researchers wrote, “Conceivably, exposure of the general population to the non-attenuated vaccine strain could have continued through fecal shedding from persons vaccinated during 1971–1997".

Another possibility is that the p-like variants could have been circulating among civilian communities at low prevalence since the 1950s when they were first identified.

This topic warrants additional research and continued surveillance to further our understanding of the dynamics and routes of transmission of respiratory HAdVs that have the ability to establish persistent infection in the gut lymphoid tissue, said these researchers.

In view of these results and previous research, the inclusion of HAdV in diagnostic test panels would be valuable to better assess the role of HAdVs as causative agents in respiratory illness.

And to prevent unnecessary treatment of influenza-negative patients with anti-influenza agents.

Additionally, these researchers recommend the vaccine licensed for military use be considered "a resource" for closed communities, such as colleges and long-term care facilities.

This work was partially supported by the CDC (cooperative agreement no. 5U50CK000423). C.R.B. is supported by the University of New Mexico Infectious Diseases and Inflammation National Institutes of Health Training Grant T32-AI007538.

Kajon disclosed no relevant relationships with industry. One co-author disclosed support from the NIH.