Adenovirus: what are the risks? – David Gibson Eschmann

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  Posted by: Dental Design      7th July 2019

It is often children who suffer most from viruses and infections. Children have weaker immune systems and have typically had less exposure to pathogens, so it makes sense that they are more susceptible to these threats.

For dental practices that see a lot of young patients, this raises an important consideration in terms of infection control – namely that extra care should be taken to eliminate viruses from the workplace that primarily infect children, such as adenovirus.


Why is adenovirus such a concern?

Adenovirus is a term often used to describe a group of different viruses that can all have nasty effects on those who catch them. Many of these viruses are relatively harmless and will only cause problems such as conjunctivitis or a common cold, however, there are strains that are far more severe. In children, especially, adenovirus may lead to respiratory tract infections and intestinal problems, and can morph into a number of concerning illnesses such as the croup, pneumonia or bronchitis, all of which may have fatal results.[i]

These infections are a continuous concern, but they do experience certain peaks throughout the year including during spring months. Adenovirus can affect children of any age, but it is believed that those under the age of 5 are far more susceptible to the digestive tract infections these viruses can cause.

Adenovirus has also been identified as a primary concern in dental practices, joining the likes of influenza, mumps, rubella and polio.[ii]Therefore, it is necessary for professionals to be aware of how adenovirus is spread and do all in their power to prevent it affecting their more vulnerable patients such as young children.


A lingering threat

Arguably, one of the main reasons that these viruses are such a problem in dental practices and other healthcare environments is that they can live for a long time on inanimate objects and surfaces.

The strains of the virus that cause respiratory tract infections are easily transferred via infectious material such as saliva or blood, or even simply by touching an object contaminated with the virus such as a doorknob. Strains responsible for intestinal problems are a little more difficult to spread, but they primarily infect individuals through faecal-oral contact. As such, bad hand hygiene can spread them, especially amongst younger patients who may not be as thorough when washing their hands.

In light of this it’s very easy for adenovirus to spread swiftly, and this has led to epidemics of the virus in recent years. It was only in 2018 when a deadly outbreak of the virus claimed the lives of nine child patients at a hospital in New Jersey.[iii]Although many of these children were already suffering from compromised immune systems, it still shows that better infection control is necessary, and that practices around the world should remain alert in order to prevent a similar situation among patients.

Fight back against infection

There are many important steps that practices can take in order to limit the spread of potentially harmful viruses such as adenovirus. Firstly, it’s a good idea for all staff to ensure that they have received immunisation against influenza and other illnesses, as this is a trustworthy way to ensure that viruses aren’t spread via staff.

The next step is to ensure that patients have easy access to effective hand cleaning measures such as sanitisers in waiting rooms. As these spaces are where patients are most likely to spend time with infected individuals, it’s also important to ensure that all surfaces are thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

Of course, all infection control protocols need to be followed to the letter, and for any instruments used during treatment it’s always a good idea to use an autoclave that can guarantee items are sterilised effectively and quickly, such as the new Little Sister SES 2020N from Eschmann.

Their safety is in your hands

Children are just one of many different groups of vulnerable patients that you are likely to treat. Although adults will be able to fight off adenovirus infections with little consequence, it’s worth considering that these viruses are just some of the many viral and bacterial threats that can appear in a practice every day.

Therefore, professionals need to work together in order do all in their power to ensure that practices are as safe as possible for all patients and themselves by using effective equipment, powerful cleaning products and arming themselves with the appropriate knowledge.


For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of decontamination equipment and products from Eschmann, please visit or call 01903 753322




[i]Stanford Children’s Health. Adenovirus Infections. Link:[Last accessed February 19].

[ii]McCarthy, G. Risk of Transmission of Viruses in the Dental Office.  J Can Dent Assoc 2000; 66:554-5, 557.

[iii]The Mail Online. Hospital Suffering from Deadly Viral Outbreak Reports 9th Child Death as Patient Complains Paediatric Centre Smells of Urine and Faeces. Link:[Last accessed February 19].

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