Health officials announced Friday that the death toll from an outbreak of adenovirus in a pediatric rehabilitation facility in Haskell, New Jersey has risen to 11. The unidentified child died Thursday night according to NBC News. A total of 34 cases of the virus have been identified at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation since September 26. The outbreak was reported to officials on October 9.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal expressed the department’s sympathies in the following statement.
“The grief from the loss of a child is overwhelming and we extend our deepest sympathies to this family and all of the families who have had to endure these terrible losses.”
The facility has created a 24/7 hotline providing grief counseling for families of the children who have passed. One adult working at the facility was also diagnosed with adenovirus, but has since recovered.
State health officials said infected children had “severely compromised immune systems.” Many of them required assistance with breathing, according to CNN.
As a precaution — and in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus — the Wanaque Center has decided not to accept new patients. They have also finished the process of separating those known to have the virus from those identified as “medically fragile.” News 12 New Jersey also reported that patients have been separated according to CDC-assisted “lab testing status and symptoms.” The facility was at first unable to separate patients due to lack of space to do so. Elnahal said on Friday that deaths and hospitalizations made additional space available, allowing the separation to take place. He attributed the extent of the spread of the virus in part on the facility’s inability to separate patients earlier.
The death toll among children "associated" with an adenovirus outbreak at a New Jersey rehabilitation center has risen to 11, state health officials say. https://t.co/TrbJT8ag05
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 16, 2018
Elnahal cited “serious infection control deficiencies” found in inspections as another factor in the severity of the outbreak. As a result of those deficiencies, the Wanaque Center will be hiring an infection control practitioner and a physician who has been certified in infectious disease and approved by the health department. Already on site is the Department of Health’s Communicable Disease service. Elnahal called the adenovirus that’s responsible for the facility’s outbreak as “an extremely severe strain of adenovirus that couldn’t have occurred in a worse place.”
Adenovirus is a respiratory virus that is sometimes mistaken for other illnesses that are actually symptoms of the illness. Cases of the virus range from mild to serious or life-threatening. Symptoms include pneumonia, diarrhea, sore throat, pink eye, bladder infections, the common cold, and sore throat and can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.