New Jersey Viral Outbreak Results in Death of Children At Nursing And Rehab Center

A viral outbreak has killed seven children at a New Jersey nursing and rehabilitation center which has received below average ratings from federal inspectors and which a former worker says is dirty and bug-infested. 

On October 25, the New Jersey Department of Health issued a press release warning that it has confirmed 19 cases of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center of Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell. Seven of the victims, all children, have died.

The department indicates it is conducting an active investigation of the outbreak, which has occurred among medically fragile children with compromised immune systems. The press release states that the center has agreed to cease new admissions for the duration of the outbreak. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting in the investigation.

“The strain of adenovirus seen in this outbreak is associated with communal living arrangements and is known to cause severe illness — especially in those with compromised immune systems,” the press release states.

The most recent case occurred on October 22, and the outbreak began in late September.

Media reports indicate that at least one worker at the nursing home and pediatric rehabilitation center has warned that it is filthy, with rusty equipment, bug infestations and mold issues. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid gave the center a below average rating.

The center is the home to children who are severely disabled, some of whom are in comas, and some who will never live anywhere else due to their health issues. This makes the population very vulnerable to communal illnesses, health experts warn.

This week, New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said that the center was not equipped to quarantine children in the facility’s ventilator unit who became ill. He also said that because the outbreak is among such a vulnerable group of patients, that it was the worst type of facility for such an outbreak to have occurred, even if the facility was doing everything it could and should.

The adenovirus is a respiratory viral infection that usually causes mild or serious illness, such as common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pink eye, fever, inflammation of the stomach, bladder and intestines and neurological problems.

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