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Respiratory Virus Killed 8 Military Recruits After Vaccination Program Halted

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Adenovirus infections caused eight deaths in the U.S. military since an immunization program was canceled, according to a new study.

Adenoviruses are frequent causes of respiratory disease in the United States. There are dozens of strains of adenovirus, many of which do not cause serious illness. Adenoviruses, for example, often cause symptoms of the common cold.

However, certain strains can cause life-threatening illness, including pneumonia.

A vaccination program against adenovirus types 4 and 7 was launched in 1971 and ended in 1999 after the only manufacturer of the vaccine ceased production. A new vaccination program began in October 2011.

An analysis of data showed that only five adenovirus-associated deaths, all related to types 4 and 7, were reported in active duty military members between 1967 and 1974.

There were no deaths from adenovirus between 1975 and 1998.

Between 1999 and 2010, there were eight deaths caused by adenovirus infections. Most were caused adenovirus types 4 and 7, but some were caused by type 14.

The findings are in the March issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The eight patients ranged in age from 18 to 32. Six were white, one was black and one was of unknown race.

"The population at greatest risk for adenovirus-associated disease is military recruits," the researchers wrote. "Most recruits are young men, and the deaths reported here occurred at the recruits' training centers."

"Surveillance of the recruit centers will continue for evaluation of the types 4 and 7 vaccines. The military medical community is hopeful that the protective effect of the vaccines will extend beyond adenovirus types 4 and 7," the researchers concluded in a journal news release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about adenoviruses.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Emerging Infectious Diseases, news release, Feb. 14, 2012

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