"Killer" cold virus making a return

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David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Got a cold?

While your symptoms are bad enough, but now the CDC warns of a new, uncommon twist on the virus often behind the common cold.  The killer cold virus is rare now, but it is potent, and after disappearing for 40 years, it seems to be coming back.

Dr. Christopher Belcher at the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital says, "the name of the virus is adenovirus and it is a common respiratory virus. But like many viruses there are different types and this type is known as Type 14."

The CDC wants health officials to know and watch for the Type 14 variant, or what some call the Boot Camp Virus because of an outbreak at a military base in Texas last spring that killed a 19-year-old recruit and hospitalized others.

"The report was notable because it is happening to young people who are generally healthy. Certainly some of the people had medical problems but usually adenovirus is not a fatal disease and usually does not cause severe pneumonia," Dr. Belcher said.

But Type 14 might. CDC counted 140 cases nationwide last spring. 40 percent of patients had to go to hospitals, and ten died.

"Increases in fever, trouble breathing, worsening cough is unusual for a regular respiratory virus so it should be checked out. It may be another complication or another type of pneumonia as well," Dr. Belcher said.

Type 14 last showed up in the springtime. It's unclear if it will be a threat this winter season. With so many people traveling for the holidays, experts say remember good handwashing. If you don't have access to water, doctors suggest using hand sanitizers.

Also, if you have a cold, try to keep it off your hands altogether. Dr. Belcher said the "preferred way to cough or sneeze now is into the corner of the elbow or sleeve."