Adenovirus Outbreak at Uw-Oshkosh, Other Uw Campuses

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - The state Department of Health Services reports an outbreak of the adenovirus on college campuses around the state, including University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Adenovirus cases are also confirmed at UW-Madison and UW-La Crosse.

The DHS says it may be spreading elsewhere, but people can mistake the symptoms for a cold and the disease goes unreported.

U.W.-Oshkosh says two students were diagnosed over several weeks. The cases were discovered as part of the school's regular influenza monitoring for the state.

UWO health officials don't consider it an outbreak there with only two cases, but state health officials define it as an outbreak "because we are seeing cases in more than one location and in a specific community (in this case college campuses)."

Adenovirus is spread easily, especially where there are large groups of people. It can be spread by sharing the air with someone who's coughed or sneezed; touching infected surfaces such as a doorknob or desktop then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, where the virus can easily enter through soft tissue; having contact with human waste; or sharing water that has the virus in it, such as a swimming pool.

The virus can affect people differently. It may present as cold or flu-like symptoms, even bronchitis or pneumonia, or diarrhea or pinkeye. It can also cause inflammation of the bladder or neurological disease in rare cases.

Antibiotics are ineffective against adenovirus, and people can still spread the virus even after the symptoms pass.

"The point we want to drive home," the DHS says, "is that people should be extra vigilant about washing their hands, avoiding people who are sick, and staying home if they are sick."