New Common Cold Virus Variant Deadly

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a new virulent strain of the common cold virus, adenovirus, has caused 10 deaths over the last 18 months [1]. The virus, identified as adenovirus serotype 14 (Ad14), is a rarely reported strain of adenovirus that can cause severe and even fatal respiratory illness. It’s unusual since adenoviruses typically cause non-lethal infections. According the the CDC report:

The cases described in this report are unusual because they suggest the emergence of a new and virulent Ad14 variant that has spread within the United States.


Indeed, between the months of March-June 2007, Ad14 caused at least 140 respiratory illnesses in three states; Oregon, Texas and Washington [1]. More than 50 of those patients were hospitalized, including 24 who were admitted to intensive care units. Nine of those patients died, most from severe pneumonia. People of all ages have been affected, including healthy young adults, typically the group least susceptible.