An outbreak of a viral illness has killed six pediatric patients and sickened 12 others at a New Jersey rehabilitation facility as health officials continue to investigate the cause. The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, located in Haskell, has been instructed by the state’s health department not to admit any new patients until the outbreak has ended.
Health officials confirmed the presence of adenovirus 7, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease and can occur at any time throughout the year.
Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses, including common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pink eye, fever, bladder infection, inflammation of the stomach or neurologic diseases. While they typically cause mild illnesses, people with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are at higher risk of developing a severe illness.
“Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus (7) in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems,” a health department statement provided to Fox News said. “The strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be more severe.”
The statement said the health department sent a team to the facility to inspect on Sunday, and again on Tuesday, and that they found minor handwashing deficiencies. The department had reportedly been notified by the 227-bed facility of cases of respiratory illness on Oct. 9.
A Wanaque Center spokesperson told ABC 7 in a statement that it was cooperating with state investigators to implement infection control.
According to NJ.com, in addition to housing pediatric patients, the facility also serves as an adult nursing home and rehabilitation center for short- and long-term care.