A Flu Imposter

It looks like flu. It feels like flu. It even puts patients into the hospital like flu can.

There’s another virus out there that could be adding to the seasonal misery, but it’s not being identified.

The virus is called adenovirus, and it can cause very severe flu-like symptoms. It’s so risky that the U.S. military vaccinates recruits against two major strains.

But most people are not vaccinated against adenovirus, and doctor’s offices don’t test for it. Adriana Kajon, Ph.D, wants that to change.

“Unless you look for it or you suspect it’s circulating or you are using diagnostic testing capabilities that can tell it apart, you are going to miss it, especially during flu season,” said Kajon, an infectious disease specialist at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque.

“We are seeing severe adult infections,” Kajon told NBC News.

“That’s a big deal, especially for a disease that by all means is vaccine preventable. But this vaccine is not licensed to be used in civilians.”

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