A vaccine for adenoviruses, a family of viruses that mimic the symptoms of the flu, is only available to the military, despite reports that there is a need for a vaccine like it in the civilian community.
In a new report for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Emergency Infectious Diseases journal, the authors of the report suggest that the exclusive vaccine be considered for civilian use.
Adenovirus can feel like the flu in the sense that some of the same symptoms present themselves, including difficulty breathing, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis and a number of other symptoms.
While the journal says a civilian vaccine should be considered, the amount of deaths as a result of the virus is significantly lower than the flu. The flu kills tens of thousands of people each year, while adenovirus kills a handful.
Adenovirus type 4 is common in military settings and was identified in the 1950s “in association with military outbreaks of febrile respiratory illness and is well-recognized worldwide as a prevalent causative agent of acute respiratory disease (ARD) and ocular disease,” the report read.
Outbreaks of the disease in the military in the 1970s led the U.S. Department of Defense to start vaccinating military recruits. The vaccine production stopped in 1996, resulting in increased cases of the virus.
When the disease again began to break out in the military, the Department of Defense decided to reinstate the vaccine in 2011.
“Adenovirus types 4 and 7 caused approximately 15,000 cases of acute respiratory diseases in recruits,” according to the U.S. Army Medical Material Development Activity. With the vaccine, that number is reduced by 99 percent.
The adenovirus type 4 vaccine “currently licensed for military use should be considered a potentially valuable resource to prevent disease in susceptible populations living in closed communities, such as college settings summer camps, and long-term care facilities,” according to the report.