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10th child dies in viral outbreak at New Jersey health facility

HASKELL, NJ (Passaic County) – New Jersey health officials say a tenth child has died in a viral outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation

The state Department of Health on Wednesday night confirmed the latest death, with the total number of cases at 27.

Health officials say the latest death is a confirmed case of adenovirus.

In addition, a staff member at the facility — who has since recovered — also became ill as part of the outbreak. The child had become ill before Oct. 22.

To date, the individuals associated with the outbreak became ill between Sept. 26 and Oct. 29. The affected children had severely compromised immune systems — including respiratory problems — before the outbreak began.

Adenovirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days, meaning that symptoms typically appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.  This later onset of illness is not unexpected due to the long incubation period of adenovirus. The Department will not consider the outbreak over until four weeks after the last illness onset.

The facility will not admit new residents for the duration of the outbreak.

This is an active investigation of an outbreak of adenovirus so it is possible that lab tests will confirm additional cases. A Department of Health Communicable Disease Service staff member is on site at the facility and monitoring the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is assisting with lab testing and expertise.

“The loss of these young lives is heartbreaking, and our thoughts are with the families who are affected,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “We are working closely with the facility to conduct respiratory illness surveillance and ensure all infection control protocols are continuously followed. We are also engaging in discussions with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on standards for these facilities.”

A Department of Health team of infection control experts and epidemiologists will visit University Hospital and four pediatric long-term care facilities — including Wanaque — in November to conduct training and assessments of infection control procedures, Commissioner Elnahal announced earlier this week.

Adenovirus is a respiratory virus which can cause mild or serious illness, though serious illness is less common. Symptoms may include common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pink eye, fever, bladder inflammation or infection, inflammation of the stomach and intestines and neurological disease.

On Oct. 30, the department released the final report from the Oct. 21 unannounced inspection of the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

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By: Jay Edwards Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook