Seven children sickened by a strain of adenovirus associated with communal living facilities have died in a New Jersey nursing and rehabilitation center, state officials announced.
The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed that at least 18 people, including the seven children who perished, have been sickened in the adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell.
The Wanaque Center includes a pediatrics unit staffed by medical professionals, teachers, and administrators serving the needs of “medically fragile” children. The seven confirmed child deaths were associated with that part of the facility.
The Department of Health says that it instructed the Wanaque Center to stop admitting new patients “until the adenovirus outbreak ends and they are in full compliance.”
Health department officials investigating the outbreak found some handwashing deficiencies. The outbreak remains under investigation and health officials “continue to work closely with the facility on infection control issues,” the Health Department said.
Adenoviruses are part of a group of viruses that can infect the membranes or tissue lining of the respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, urinary tract, and nervous system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms usually include sore throats, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye.
“Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus [#7] in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems,” the New Jersey Health Department statement reads. “The strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be severe.”
“It can cause cold-like and fl-like symptoms like stuffy nose or scratchy throat. It’s a very common virus. All of us have had adenovirus at one time,” Dr. Todd Ellerin, an infectious disease specialist at South Shore Health in Weymouth, Massachusetts, told ABC News. “It’s rare, but we have seen #7 become fatal pneumonia in patients that have a normal immune system.”
“It’s more dangerous in children or adults who are immuno-compromised,” Dr. Ellerin told ABC News.
Governor Phil Murphy said he is “heartbroken by the news” of the children who succumbed to adenovirus infections at the Wanaque Center.
Gov. Murphy said the “Department of Health has recommended vital measures to enhance protections against the further spread of infection and will continue its active on-site surveillance. I am confident that the steps being taken by state and local officials will minimize the impact to all those who remain at the facility, including patients and employees.”