New Jersey

NJ Facility Where 11 Children Died Separates Infected Patients

The medical center has been grappling with a 'severe outbreak' of adenovirus

What to Know

  • An 11th child has died in a viral outbreak at a New Jersey medical facility, the state health department said
  • A total of 34 people at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Passaic County have been sickened by adenovirus
  • Adenoviruses typically cause cold-like symptoms, but can be dangerous to those who are medically fragile

A New Jersey medical center where 11 children have died in a viral outbreak has separated its infected patients from those who are medically fragile, state health officials said Saturday. 

The children were separated in the pediatric respiratory unit at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Passaic County, the NJ Department of Health said. 

Eleven children have died and 34 sickened with adenovirus. 

The inability to separate patients was "was one of the major reasons for the outbreak to be as severe as it has been," health officials said after an investigation. 

The deadline to separate patients was Nov. 21. A request to the Medical Reserve Corps — a group of volunteer clinicians who in cases of an emergency assist in various ways to protect the public — has been canceled.  

Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The viruses cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea and pink eye. Adenoviruses can pose serious complications to certain people, particularly those with weakened immune systems, respiratory issues and cardiac disease.

According to the CDC, adenoviruses are typically spread from an infected person to others through close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands; through the air by coughing and sneezing; or by touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

The state’s Department of Health said they were informed of the outbreak on Oct. 9. State health officials later found handwashing discrepancies.

The I-Team has uncovered inspection reports for the center dating back to 2015. During that time the facility was cited for 14 violations, including infection control.

The facility has been instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance. It was also required to hire a certified Infection Control Practitioner. 

The Wanaque Center has also established a 24/7 hotline for families impacted by the outbreak.

The Wanaque Center is a for-profit facility that, according to its website, works with "with medically fragile children" from newborn to 22 years of age. The center also serves as an adult nursing home and rehabilitation center for short- and long-term care.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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