9th Child Dead From Flu-Like Adenovirus Outbreak at New Jersey Center

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 29, 2018US News
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An adenovirus outbreak at a New Jersey pediatric rehabilitation center has left nine children dead, officials said on Sunday Oct. 28.

The ninth child became ill before Oct. 22 and died on Oct. 28, the New Jersey Department of Health said.

“This is a tragic situation, and our thoughts are with the families who are grieving right now,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a statement.

“We are working every day to ensure all infection control protocols are continuously followed and closely monitoring the situation at the facility,” he said.

At the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, the 26 patients—25 children and one adult, a staff members who later recovered— contracted the adenovirus during the outbreak. It is believed that the individuals who became ill contracted the virus between Sept. 26 and Oct. 22.

The outbreak has attacked children who were already weak with severely compromised immune systems, officials said. Adenovirus 7, in the outbreak is linked with communal living arrangements.

“As part of an ongoing effort to ensure all infection control measures are followed, we are taking extra steps to monitor residents and staff for any signs of infectious illness,” Elnahal explained.

“Not all viruses are adenovirus. Often people become ill for many reasons, especially these medically fragile children who had respiratory problems as part of their underlying medical conditions,” he said.

While workers with the Department of Health Communicable Disease Service and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working on stopping the outbreak, no new residents will be admitted to the Wanaque Center.

Adenovirus

Adenovirus causes severe flu-like symptoms but can be even more dangerous than the typical flu virus.

Adenoviruses, of which there are 52 different strains, are common causes of respiratory illnesses and most infections aren’t severe, according to the CDC. But experts said the type found in New Jersey is more severe than usual. Type 7 is most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease, according to the CDC.

The viruses typically spread from close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, through the air by coughing and sneezing, and touching objects or surfaces that have the viruses on them before touching one’s mouth, nose, or eyes.

Symptoms include a sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, fever, and neurologic disease.

While noting that the adenovirus vaccine is only available for United States military personnel, the CDC said that to prevent the spread of the virus wash hands often, avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and avoid close contact with people who have the virus.

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