The U.S. military has been fighting a battle with a common virus. Adenoviruses, which cause respiratory illnesses including some colds, plague boot camps. In the past, the viruses have infected 80 percent or more of new soldiers, spawning a potentially fatal flulike illness in some. A vaccine kept the virus in check for two decades but was discontinued in 1996, after a dispute between its maker — Wyeth Pharmaceuticals — and the U.S. Department of Defense. A new vaccine introduced by the DOD in 2011 has cut infections by a factor of 100, scientists report July 2 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Adenovirus infections are common among children, but symptoms are typically mild. Certain variants of the virus, such as adenovirus type 4, cause outbreaks of severe respiratory disease and are found mostly among adults in the military.
Civilians with adenovirus type 4, 2004–2006
Military recruits with adenovirus type 4, 2004–2006
Source: G.C. Gray et al/Clin. Infect. Dis. 2007