Six children dead, 12 sick in viral outbreak at New Jersey facility

Lynette PayneOct 24, 2018

A day earlier, state health officials confirmed the outbreak of cases of adenovirus at the center in Haskell in Passaic County.

Adenoviruses frequently cause mild illness, with cold-like symptoms, particularly in young children. But the virus, which the department said was particularly associated with communal living facilities, had severely affected children at the facility who had fragile and compromised immune systems. There's now no treatment for this strain of adenovirus, which is typically found in communal living spaces.

The facility is not admitting any new patients until the outbreak ends, the statement said. A team was sent back Tuesday. "An outbreak investigation, with assistance from the CDC, is ongoing". The infections can affect the tissue linings of the respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, urinary tract and nervous system, causing illnesses ranging from a cold to bronchitis to pneumonia to pink eye.

The Health Department hasn't released the names or the ages of the victims.

Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement that he was "heartbroken" about the deaths and that he had been briefed by the health commissioner, Dr Shereef Elnahal, who told him that the department was on site and trying to prevent the virus from spreading further.

They usually spread through close contact like touching an infected surface or shaking hands, coughing, and sneezing. Some strains can also be spread through water that an infected person has been in or through stool, the CDC says.

In the past 10 years, cases of severe illness and death from the type of infection found at the facility have been reported in the United States, though it's unclear how many deaths there have been.

Here's what to know about adenovirus and the outbreak in New Jersey.

Serious complications are uncommon, but the CDC notes those with "weakened immune systems, or existing respiratory or cardiac disease" are at a higher risk of severe sickness from adenovirus infections.

An inspection team from the state health department responded to the facility on Sunday and another team from the agency returned to the center on Tuesday.

The center's website says it treats "medically fragile children" in its pediatrics center. "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".

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