COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — A University of Maryland student has died from an adenovirus-related illness.
The student, identified as 18-year-old UMD freshman Olivia Paregol, was in her first semester of college.
The University of Maryland issued a letter acknowledging the death, though never naming anyone officially.
The letter acknowledged in part that on November 19, the University learned that “the testing of one specimen sent to the CDC revealed Adenovirus 7, a strain that may cause more severe illness,”
Her father spoke to WJZ the same day he had to make funeral arrangements for his daughter.
“Just the sweetest girl that you would ever possibly meet,” said Ian Paregol, her father.
Paregol said he wants the world to know just what his 18-year-old daughter means to him and the family, now mourning her death.
“She was just a real beautiful soul and a wonderful person,” Paregol said.
The University of Maryland’s Health Center said it learned of the student’s illness on November 1.
Since then, there have been reports of five additional cases of students with an adenovirus-associated illness.
Adenovirus has been in the news in recent weeks after several children died from the disease at a rehab facility in New Jersey.
Adenoviruses are common causes of colds, but there are strains that can cause more serious illnesses.
Paregol calls the timing of the information from the University following his daughter’s death troubling.
“We didn’t know that there were other cases of adenovirus,” Paregol said.
Olivia’s father said she had been sick since September with a cough and made frequent stops to the University’s Health Center.
It’s also where she would get medication for her Crohn’s Disease, which her dad says weakened her immune system.
Doctors said it would have definitely put her at risk for complications.
“When the virus gets into the lungs it can cause damage to the lungs and often you’ll get what’s called a superinfection or a bacterial infection on top of it, which can also be very serious,” said Dr. Scott Krugman, Vice Chair Pediatrics Sinai Hospital.
Paregol also said he now wonders if an outbreak of mold on campus back in the fall made things worse.
Olivia lived in one of the dorms where students were evacuated so cleaning could be done.
The University has said online it appears there is no connection between the two. But Olivia’s father is not ready to jump to any conclusions.
“It didn’t help the illness, I think that’s a really fair statement we don’t know there’s causation yet, but it didn’t help things,” Paregol said.
The University warned students in its letter that there is no specific medication to treat the infection in a non-hospitalized individual.
They told students that vigilance is extremely important, particularly for those with cnhronic medical problems like asthma, diabetes, or illnesses that lower your immune system, or if you take medicine that lowers your immune system.
Students have also been advised to take this strain of the virus seriously, including taking preventive measures on this and other viruses, and that departments across campus began increased cleaning of surfaces around the University early in November in response to the situation.