Knoxville (WVLT) -- It's called Adenovirus 14 and the CDC says it could be to colds, what MRSA is to staph infections, rare but potentially deadly.
Adenovirus 14 is a mutated cold virus that hasn't shown up since summertime and not in Tennessee or anywhere in the south.
The CDC didn't identify it until recently, so they are just now putting out the word.
Even though they say it isn’t a warning, they do want medical facilities and professionals to watch out for it.
Facilities like the East Towne Clinic and doctors throughout the valley have treated a lot of people with the common cold this year.
“When a virus changes enough to look different from its relatives, it tends to make us sicker,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan from the Knox County Health Department.
As for Adenovirus 14, she says it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“It’s serious enough to put you in the intensive care unit and it's actually killed some people,” Dr. Buchanan said.
It killed 10 people in four states last year and this past summer while sickening more than 100.
Most of those sicknesses occurred at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio where it even killed a 19-year-old trainee.
“It did make people who were otherwise healthy very ill,” Dr. Buchanan said.
Beyond acute infections of the upper respiratory tract, Adenovirus 14 can cause everything from pink eye to bladder infections and inflammation of your stomach and intestines.
“This virus can live up to two weeks outside the body,” said Dr. Stephen Garner, an emergency medicine specialist in New York City. “If I coughed on the wall and you come along and rub up against it, you may get it even if I don't cough directly in your face.”
“Just like any other virus, there's no pill to give you,” said Dr. Buchanan.
So as with MRSA and other hardy infections, the push is on prevention.
“I always fall back to wash your hands, cover your cough and have good personal respiratory hygiene,” said Dr. Buchanan.
And you should remember to keep it all in perspective.
“You may get the common cold but it's very unlikely you're going to get this virus, so I think we shouldn't be too concerned about that,” said Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University.
Adenovirus 14 hasn't shown up for awhile.
What isn't clear is whether it came back or doctors simply have been diagnosing it as something else.
The bottom line is that there have been no confirmed cases since the summertime and none in Tennessee.
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