New Jersey

11th Child Dies Amid ‘Severe' Viral Outbreak at NJ Facility

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

An 11th child has died at a New Jersey medical center hit by a "severe" viral outbreak, the state Department of Health said Friday. 

The child had been a resident at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Passaic County and was among 34 pediatric adenovirus cases health officials were tracking in connection with the current outbreak. 

The state's Department of Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said Friday he put in 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 — to mitigate the outbreak at the facility by seperating sick and well patients.

Previously, seperating patients could not be done because of limitations in the facility. During the investigation, health officials determined that the limitation  in being able to do that "was one of the major reasons for the outbreak to be as severe as it has been."

"Up to this week it has not been completely possible to seperate these patients given the census there given the facility constraints, but now, due to decreasing census at the facility it is,"Elnahal said, adding the facility has until Nov. 21 to seperate the patients accordingly in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

Additionally, Elnahal said that on Wednesday, health officials have issued an enforcement action against the facility for "serious deficiencies that we've noted on subsequent inspections that we've done since our first one on Oct. 21." According to Elnahal, the health department has received direct complaints from the facility's staff and from other members of the public.

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 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. Health officials said Friday they put out a statewide call for volunteers from the New Jersey Medical Reserve Corp. to help the facility separate sick from asymptomatic patients.

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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