N.J. Health Dept.: 6 Children Dead Due To Outbreak Of Adenovirus

Child death toll hits 7 in viral outbreak at rehab center

Police cruisers are seen parked near the entrance of the Wanaque Center For Nursing and Rehabilitation, where New Jersey state Health Department confirmed the 18 cases of adenovirus, today, in Haskell, N.J. The outbreak has left six children dead and 12 others sick.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said these kinds of fatalities are not common, but they're known to happen.

The announcement from the Department of Health comes days after health officials found "hand washing deficiencies" and "infection control issues" at the facility.

"The facility promptly notified all appropriate government agencies when the virus was initially identified, including the New Jersey Department of Health, the Passaic County Department of Health, the Communicable Disease Service and the Centers for Disease Control", the statement 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, said CDC spokeswoman Kate Fowlie in an email, though it is unclear how many deaths there have been.

Adenoviruses are prolific viruses that can cause a variety of illnesses, including upper respiratory infections - such as colds - as well as pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and even urinary tract infections.

Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell was ordered to stop admitting new patients until the outbreak of adenovirus 7 ends.

Adenoviruses frequently cause mild illness, with cold-like symptoms, particularly in young children.

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But the 18 patients, had compromised immune systems.

The centre helps educate "medically fragile children", according to its website. And while an adenovirus vaccine exists, it's available only to military recruits. The children at Wanaque appear to have been more susceptible to serious infections due to their other medical conditions.

She described this family of viruses as "environmentally hardy". "Rarely does adenovirus get this nasty".

And adenoviruses are still hard to diagnose since they're not typically included in a panel of tests used to identify specific viruses, according to Schaffner.

The cause of the outbreak had not been determined.

Still, Schaffner doesn't think people need to be anxious about adenoviruses.

"But they're not almost as serious as influenza".

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