A 10th child has died at a medical center hit by a viral outbreak, the New Jersey Department of Health said late Wednesday.
Nine other "medically fragile" children at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Passaic County died recently after being exposed to an adenovirus outbreak at the center.
The department says 27 cases have been associated with the respiratory virus at the center. The affected children had severely compromised immune systems. One death was a young adult. A staff member at the facility, who has since recovered, also became ill as part of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, the state says there are four confirmed adenovirus cases among pediatric patients at Voorhees Pediatric Facility, near Philadelphia.
Preliminary tests have ruled out the strain linked to the 10 deaths at the Wanaque facility.
The New Jersey Department of Health said additional laboratory tests confirmed the additional cases.
The medical center has been grappling with a “severe outbreak” of adenovirus, a family of viruses that can otherwise cause mild illness, according to the state's Department of Health.
The facility has been instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance.
The Wanaque Center established a 24/7 hotline for families impacted by the outbreak.
“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 on standards for these facilities.”
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 state Department of Health is monitoring the situation “very closely” and has been in contact with the staff at the center “providing guidance on infection control and cleaning procedures.”
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.