HASKELL, NJ (Passaic County) – New Jersey health officials say a ninth child has died in a viral outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.
The medically fragile child with respiratory illness passed away at a hospital late Saturday night. This latest death was an individual who had a confirmed case of adenovirus and had become ill before Oct. 22, state health officials said.
A total of 25 pediatric cases have been associated with this outbreak. A staff member at the facility — who has since recovered — also became ill as part of the outbreak. Among the 25 confirmed adenovirus cases among residents, there have been eight pediatric deaths confirmed with adenovirus. The Department of Health does not have laboratory confirmation of adenovirus in the individual who passed away on Friday afternoon, state health officials said.
“This is a tragic situation, and our thoughts are with the families who are grieving right now,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “We are working every day to ensure all infection control protocols are continuously followed and closely monitoring the situation at the facility.”
October 22 remains the most recent date of illness onset. To date, the individuals associated with the outbreak became ill between Sept. 26 and Oct. 22. The affected children in the facility’s pediatric ventilator unit had severely compromised immune systems — including respiratory problems — before the outbreak began, state health officials said.
This is an ongoing outbreak investigation and lab tests could confirm additional cases. When the Department receives additional test results, we will provide an update. The type of adenovirus virus involved in this outbreak (#7) is associated with communal living arrangements and is known to cause severe illness — especially in those with compromised immune systems, , state health officials said.
“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,” Dr. 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.”
The facility will not admit new residents for the duration of the outbreak, , state health officials said.
The Department of Health Communicable Disease Service is on site monitoring the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is assisting with lab testing and expertise, state health officials said.
The affected children range in age from toddlers to young adults. The vast majority are under the age of 18, state health officials said.
The Wanaque Center established a 24/7 hotline for affected families and is offering professional grief counseling to those impacted, state health officials said.
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, state health officials said.