30 adenovirus cases confirmed at University of Maryland; at least eight hospitalized

At least 30 cases of adenovirus had been confirmed at the University of Maryland, College Park as of Wednesday, according to the university.

The virus, which led to the death of a freshman in November, has hospitalized at least eight people, according to information from the University Health Center.

The university plans to deep-clean frequently touched surfaces in dorms during students’ winter break to combat the spread of the virus, including disinfecting doorknobs, desks, dressers, counters, light switches, faucets and bed frames.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the adenovirus outbreak on the College Park campus. There are more than 50 strains of adenovirus, and the pathogen can cause symptoms ranging from mild common colds to serious complications such as intestinal infections or neurological problems.

Adenovirus 7 is among the strains that can lead to more serious illnesses. On Nov. 19, one specimen collected at the school by the CDC had been identified as adenovirus 7, the University Health Center reported. And by Nov. 29, four of five additional samples sent to the CDC tested positive for adenovirus 7, according to the health center.

What are adenoviruses, the type of pathogen that killed a University of Maryland freshman? »

As of Monday, the CDC had ceased testing every adenovirus sample for adenovirus 7. Instead, the CDC will test selected specimens based on clinical criteria, including samples from patients who have been hospitalized and those who have been diagnosed with pneumonia or contracted other severe diseases, according to the University Health Center.

University officials notified campus residents Thursday that residential facilities staff would disinfect surfaces inside students’ rooms during winter break beyond standard cleaning during an attempt to stem the spread of viruses. Contractors will conduct the cleaning Jan. 7-18 while escorted by university staff.

The university is asking campus residents to clear their living areas before leaving for winter break to prepare for the deep-cleaning, including clearing off the tops of desks, dressers, countertops and tables; moving bedding away from headboards and footboards; removing personal items, towels and rugs from bathrooms; taking home valuables; and storing fragile items.

Students who wish to opt out of the cleaning must notify the university by Dec. 18.

Adenovirus is one in a series of widespread health problems the university has faced this semester. The campus also saw a mold outbreak in dorms this fall linked to the rainy year and heat and humidity that extended well into the semester.

Olivia Paregol, an 18-year-old from Howard County, died of complications from adenovirus Nov. 18 at Johns Hopkins Hospital, according to her father, Ian Paregol. She had been in and out of the hospital since first developing a cough and then pneumonia earlier in the semester.

Adenovirus can be more serious in people with weakened immune systems. Paregol’s immune system was compromised by medication she was taking to combat Crohn’s disease, Ian Paregol said.

On Tuesday, the University Health Center also sent messages to students who have reported higher risk conditions — including those with asthma, diabetes, immune deficiency or taking immune-weakening medications — to remind them of precautions they should take to avoid adenovirus, according to the health center.

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