Viral outbreak kills 6 children at NJ facility

The department had reportedly been notified by the 227-bed facility of cases of respiratory illness on Oct. 9

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. But officials say this outbreak is particularly severe because it's affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems.

A team from the health department is at the facility and an inspection team was there Sunday, as well.

Adenovirus is a family of viruses that typically impact young children and cause mild illness, according to the Health Department.

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.

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.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, who is not involved in the outbreak investigation, agreed that the deaths in this outbreak may be partially explained by the fact that the children had underlying medical conditions that predisposed them to severe infection. Symptoms can range from a sore throat and fever to intestinal inflammation and neurological disease.

State officials were first notified of respiratory illnesses at the center on October 9, officials said.

The viruses can be spread through close personal contact, coughing and sneezing or touching contaminated objects.

The Wanaque Center says on its website that it is a for-profit facility that works with "with medically fragile children" from newborn to 22 years old.

What's known about Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation?

A scientific paper cited by the CDC reported that a 1998 outbreak of type 7 adenovirus at a pediatric chronic-care facility in Chicago claimed the lives of eight patients.

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