7 children dead in virus outbreak at New Jersey facility
Seven children have died as a result of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey.
The Wanaque facility has been “instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance,” according to the health department.
The timing of the deaths is not clear. The health department was notified of respiratory illness at the center on October 9 and Wanaque sent parents of children at the facility letters about the infection on October 19 according to Nicole Kirgan at the New Jersey Department of Health.
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. Wednesday the department announced an additional pediatric death.
The New Jersey Department of Health said it’s an ongoing outbreak investigation and workers were at the facility Tuesday. A team at the facility on Sunday found minor handwashing deficiencies. “The Department continues to work very closely with the facility to ensure that all infection control measures are being followed,” the Wanaque facility said in a statement Wednesday.
The exact ages of the children are not being released to protect patient privacy, Nicole Kirgan, a spokeswoman for the department of health said, adding that the age ranges for the deceased children was “from a toddler through young adults – but most are under 18.”
Adenoviruses can cause mild to severe illness, though serious illness is less common. People with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are at higher risk of developing severe illness from an adenovirus infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This outbreak, caused by adenovirus type 7, “is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems. The strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be more severe,” according to the health department statement.
In a statement Tuesday, the facility said it “promptly notified all appropriate government agencies when the virus was initially identified.”
“The Wanaque Center continues to fully cooperate with these agencies and has sought out their medical guidance with respect to the virus,” the facility 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.”
Nurses at the facility had previously reported a shortage of nursing staff and supplies, according to a statement from the union that represents the nursing staff which was posted online Tuesday. The Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) said the shortages may have led to “poor infection control practices.”
The union said it represents the 70 nurses that work at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.