Upper Michigan health officials investigating Adenovirus

Published: Sep. 27, 2018 at 5:54 PM EDT
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According to a recent release from the Delta & Menominee Counties Public Health Department, health officials across the Upper Peninsula are investigating several cases of severe respiratory illness which has turned fatal in one instance.

Adenovirus is a common cold and flu-like illness that can sometimes cause more substantial issues like bronchitis and pneumonia.

Doctor Terry Frankovich, Medical Director for four Upper Peninsula district health departments has been closely monitoring the adenovirus for several weeks now.

"In August we were notified about a group of four cases of people who had been hospitalized with the virus initially," says Dr. Frankovich.

Since then, the number of cases of adenovirus in the U.P. has more than doubled.

"We basically have eleven cases under investigation. We have not had a new hospitalized case in over two weeks now, which is a good thing. But unfortunately we did have one death associated with the virus," Dr. Frankovich commented.

No additional details on that fatality are available. However, we do know several patients that had been hospitalized with the virus had recently visited the Island Resort and Casino in Hannahville, Michigan.

"We're certainly aware with the first cases that there was some common exposure for some of the cases, having been at the casino. The casino itself is not a source of infections. We've seen cases who've never been to the casino,” asserted Dr. Frankovich.

While the Island Resort and Casino had no comment, Frankovich says casinos are large gathering places with a lot of traffic. And like schools and other public places, can be breeding grounds for germs.

"The casino itself has been great and really undertook some good cleaning measures just to help reduce the chance of spread in that setting,” claimed Dr. Frankovich.

Doctor Frankovich also says adenovirus is not new. However some strains of the virus can be stronger than others.

"And the strain that we're seeing with this is one of those. So while anyone can get the virus, you certainly are at risk for more significant illness if you have underlying health conditions," advised Dr. Frankovich.

Folks with lung disease, asthma, regular smokers, the elderly and children five and under are most susceptible to adenovirus and other respiratory illness.

Officials say to treat the adenovirus just like the flu which is easily transmitted from person to person by coughing or sneezing. Similar viruses can also be transmitted by touching surfaces that have come into contact with germs such as door knobs and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Officials also say that just like the flu, prevention is key.

"Cover your cough, wash your hands frequently and staying home when you're ill helps to reduce spread around the community," recommended Dr. Frankovich.

"Most people who get adenovirus will have a mild respiratory illness and quite honestly they'll never know it was adenovirus. Just like there's over 200 strains of viruses that cause colds. You never know which one you have,” says Dr. Frankovich.

Further, Frankovich says statistically, the flu is dramatically more deadly than adenovirus.

“The CDC just come out with a report today that we lost 80,000 people in the United States to flu last year and flu is actually a vaccine preventable illness. Unfortunately with adenovirus we don't have a vaccine. So we're lucky that most of the time, it’s a milder illness,” concluded Dr. Frankovich.