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Wisconsin health officials investigate adenovirus outbreak on college campuses

Wisconsin (WQOW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is investigating several cases of a respiratory illness making the rounds on college campuses.

A press release from DHS Friday did not list which specific college campuses the adenovirus outbreak affected.

“Adenovirus infection is easily spread, which is why we tend to see it in places where large groups gather, like college dormitories and classrooms,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. “While symptoms vary, the virus can be especially hard on people with weakened immune systems or who have lung or heart problems.”

While rare, severe cases can cause pneumonia or death. More common symptoms are:

  • Respiratory illness. These can range from cold and flu-like symptoms to bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Pink eye.
  • In rare cases, inflammation of the bladder or severe neurological disease.

WHS outlined a number of ways people can contract the disease including:

  • Breathing in adenovirus from the air after someone with the infection has sneezed or coughed.
  • Touching or shaking hands with someone with the virus, then touching your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Touching surfaces like a doorknob, countertop, or phone with the virus on it, then touching your hands to mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Having contact with poop.
  • Having contact with water that has the virus in it, such as in a swimming pool.

DHS is working with local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and college and university health services directors to provide prevention information and track the outbreaks. Information about these outbreaks can be found on the DHS Outbreaks and Investigations webpage.

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