The death toll following a adenovirus outbreak at a New Jersey health facility has risen to seven, while 11 children remain ill, according to NBC News, citing the New Jersey Department of Health. Officials are unclear on how long the outbreak has been going on at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, located in Haskell.
Adenoviruses infect the tissue linings of the respiratory system, eyes, urinary tract and nervous system. They commonly cause bronchitis, pneumonia and even pink eye - especially in young children. The "medically fragile" children at Wanaque are particularly vulnerable to infections due to other medical conditions.
"Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus (#7) in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems," the department said in a Tuesday statement. "The strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be more severe."
Heartbroken that several children have lost their lives in an adenovirus outbreak in Haskell. The @NJDeptofHealth will continue its active on-site surveillance and has recommended measures to protect against the further spread of infection. https://t.co/phOy6ouiBM— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) October 23, 2018
Over the weekend, the health department discovered "handwashing deficiencies" and "infection control issues" at the facility, which houses senior and pediatric patients, as well as those in rehabilitation.
In 2016 and 2017, the center was cited for hand washing deficiencies, improper storage of syringes, failure to disinfect surfaces and syringes properly and the unsanitary storage of oxygen tank tubing, all of which prevent the spread of infection. -NBC News
In a Tuesday statement, the Wanaque Rehab center said that it had promptly notified "all appropriate government agencies," including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) upon the discovery of the adenovirus cases.
"The Wanaque Center continues to fully cooperate with these agencies and has sought out their medical guidance with respect to the virus," reads the statement.
Children at the center are severely disabled, with some living in comas, and for many, it is their permanent home, the Bergen Record reports. Many will never walk or talk, and some have spent virtually their whole lives there, according to the paper. -CBS
The Adenovirus spreads through close personal contact, such as shaking hands or touching; coughing or sneezing; or touching a contaminated surface or object before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before handwashing. It can also be spread through contact with the stool of an infected person, including during diaper changes.
There is currently no adenovirus vaccine.