Viral outbreak leads to deaths of 6 children at NJ facility

Viral Outbreak at New Jersey Rehabilitation Center Leaves 6 Children Dead

The adenovirus mimics cold and flu-like symptoms and infected 18 youth with compromised immune systems at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, the health department said Tuesday.

Adenoviruses are the cause of everyday infections like the common cold, bronchitis, pink eye and respiratory tract infections, but the highly contagious viruses can be much more unsafe to people with already compromised immune systems. But health officials say the No. 7 strain of the virus detected at the facility is "affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems".

On Sunday, an inspection team found "minor handwashing deficiencies" at the centre, which also provides short- and long-term adult nursing and rehabilitation services. A team was sent back Tuesday.

A further investigation is ongoing.

"I am heartbroken by the news that several children have lost their lives in an adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, and pray for the full recovery of the other children impacted", Murphy said. "As a result, facility staff have diligently implemented all available infection control and prevention measures in order to protect the health and safety of the Wanaque Center's residents". It was not clear when the children died, and there was no information provided on their ages.

The strain afflicting the children is usually associated with acute respiratory illness, according to the CDC, which on its website instructs health workers to report unusual clusters to state or local health departments. Health officials are working with the centre on infection control issues.

The center's administrator says its fully cooperating with county, state and federal agencies and has sought out their medical guidance with respect to the virus.

But the health department said the patients affected are "medically fragile children".

New patients are being barred from going to the facility until the outbreak is over.

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