An Overview of Adenovirus 14

The Killer Cold

Most colds are relatively mild and only last for about a week. While the symptoms can be annoying, most healthy people can deal with them and still manage to go about their daily activities. There is one type of cold virus, however, that has recently been causing some very serious illnesses.

This new "killer cold," as it has been dubbed by the media, is known as adenovirus 14. It was first identified in the 1950s but appeared in its mutated, and more virulent form, in 2005. So far, there have been only a few pockets of outbreaks around the United States.

There are many different types of adenovirus; it is one of the most common types of virus that causes colds. What is so unusual about this type of adenovirus is that it is causing young, healthy people to become seriously ill, and, in a few cases, die. Read on to learn what you need to know about this virus.


Adenovirus 14 typically causes cold-like symptoms, but can also progress to serious illnesses such as pneumonia. The more serious outcomes occur when the virus progresses quickly and severely. In general, adenoviruses can cause many illnesses, including:

Having any of these illnesses or symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have adenovirus 14. If your symptoms are particularly severe or seem to be progressively getting worse, you should contact your healthcare provider.


This "killer cold" is spread the same way that all colds are spread—by droplet transmission. This means that the virus lives in mouth and nasal secretions and is spread when those secretions are passed from one person to another. This can occur when people have close contact such as touching or shaking hands. Sneezing, coughing, and sharing drinks or utensils are common modes of droplet transmission.

Touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it and then touching your face without washing your hands can also lead to an infection. And although it's less common, adenoviruses can also be spread through an infected person's stool while changing a diaper, or through the water, such as in a public swimming pool.


It is not necessary to be tested for adenovirus 14 just because you have cold symptoms. If a severe illness occurs and the cause cannot be found, your healthcare provider may decide to test for the virus after evaluating your symptoms. Your doctor will also evaluate you for other conditions such as pneumonia, upper respiratory tract infections, or conjunctivitis.


There currently is currently no FDA-approved treatment plan for adenovirus. Infections are usually mild and don't require medical care, unless you're experiencing complications from a severe infection (a concern for people with weakened immune systems (such as HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, for example).


Using good hygiene is the best way to avoid adenovirus 14 and any other cold or illness that is spread in a similar way. This includes:

A Word From Verywell

Anyone can get adenovirus 14, but those with weakened immune systems—such as young infants, older adults, and people with chronic illnesses—are at higher risk for complications from the virus, just as they are with any illnesses.

While adenoviruses have caused severe illnesses in some patients, it is usually a mild illness that does not require treatment. Even so, good hygiene habits will help minimize your chances of becoming infected with this virus, along with cold and flu.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adenoviruses. Transmission.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adenovirus. Diagnosis.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adenoviruses. Prevention & treatment.

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