Nine Children Die After Virus Spreads at New Jersey Healthcare Center

Desiree Steele
October 31, 2018

The ninth victim, described as "medically fragile with respiratory illness" by the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, died late Saturday night at a hospital, the state health department said in a statement.

The patient was one of 25 sickened by an outbreak of a respiratory virus called adenovirus, which swept through Wanaque between September 26 and October 22, mainly affecting patients in the pediatric ventilator unit. The children range in age from toddlers to young adults.

Adenovirus is a respiratory virus that can cause mild or serious illness, though serious illness is less common.

The outbreak will not be declared over until the centre can go four weeks without patients being newly infected. Among the 25 children sickened, nine have died, the Health Department said.

"This is a tragic situation, and our thoughts are with the families who are grieving right now", New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a press release.

On Tuesday the New Jersey Department of Health announced the death of six pediatric residents at the center and the infection of 12 additional residents.

The department said the exact cause of death is under investigation. They also note this strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities.

USA health officials have confirmed another case of a virus that has left eight children dead at a paediatric rehabilitation centre. "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".

The state health department has sent a team of investigators to the facility to determine the cause of the outbreak.

"Facility outbreaks are not always preventable, but in response to what we have seen in Wanaque, we are taking aggressive steps to minimize the chance they occur among the most vulnerable patients in New Jersey", Elnahal said in a statement.

The viruses typically spread from close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, through the air by coughing and sneezing, and touching objects or surfaces that have the viruses on them before touching one's mouth, nose, or eyes.

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