LONDON Jan 9: A hacking cough that is plaguing thousands of people across the country could be caused by the adenovirus which can lead to pneumonia.
GP surgeries across Britain have reported seeing a large number of patients with a nasty cough, which cannot be treated with antibiotics, Daily Mail
John Oxford, an emeritus professor of virology at Queen Mary University of London, has blamed the adenovirus for the outbreak.
Adenovirus often infects the airways and the intestinal tract and common complications include pneumonia and meningitis, according to clinical pharmacology expert Dr Ananya Mandal.
She writes: 'Some persons with a poor immunity are prone to develop complications due to adenovirus infection.
'Common but serious complications include lung infection or pneumonia, middle ear infection or otitis media and brain infections or meningitis.'
Surgeries across England and Wales have reported an increasing number of people coming to them with nasty coughs.
Dr Clare Gerada, former head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said doctors are seeing 'a lot of people with a virus more severe than a normal cold, almost a type of bronchitis'.
One of the main symptoms of the virus is a hacking cough, which can take up to three weeks to clear.
An infection usually manifests with symptoms similar to a common cold. There is a sore throat, runny nose and eyes, sneezing, headaches, cough and fever.
Infection with adenovirus may also cause croup or bronchitis. Some infections may also lead to conjunctivitis (pink-eye), skin rash, diarrhea and bladder infections.
Dr Anna Kuczynska, a GP in Cardiff, told Wales Online: 'In most cases, unless the patient has another underlying chronic condition for example, heart or lung disease or diabetes, there is often nothing the GP can do to help other than recommend resting and drinking plenty of fluids.'
She added: 'Antibiotics will be of no help for most normally healthy people.
'If you see blood or are breathless with your symptoms, have lost weight or symptoms are on-going more than three weeks, patients should get advice.'
The virus has been blamed in part for bay closures at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where doctors have reported a rise in patients coming to A&E with flu-related symptoms.
Deputy Medical Director Richard Miller told Cambridge News: 'The emergency department is already at capacity with high volumes of people attending and now we are seeing an increase in patients being admitted with flu-related illnesses.
'More vulnerable people, such as children, older people or people with long term conditions may need to be admitted, but they should check with their GP, local pharmacist or NHS 111.
'However, on the whole people with coughs, colds and flu-like illnesses will be better off staying at home, resting and drinking plenty of fluids.'
It comes as the Queen was struck down by a 'heavy cold' over Christmas, missing the traditional church service at Sandringham for the first time.
New research claims that cough medicines bought over the counter at pharmacies work little better than a placebo.
Only cough drops were proven to work, although boiled sweets would have the same throat-soothing effect, experts said.