Severe Viral Outbreak at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation Kills Seven Children, Sickens 11 others and Shuts Down Facility.
An outbreak of a viral illness has killed seven children and sickened eleven others at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey. New Jersey health officials have barred the long-term medical facility from admitting new patients as they conduct their investigation into the cause of the viral outbreak.
The New Jersey Department of Health has confirmed eighteen cases of adenovirus 7, a virus that is most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease. Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses including common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, inflammation of the stomach and a host of other illnesses. While adenoviruses usually cause mild illnesses, people with severely compromised or weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing a severe illness.
The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation is a short and long-term care center that treats “medically fragile” children. The facility also serves as an adult nursing home and rehabilitation center. The strain of adenovirus seen in this outbreak is associated with communal living arrangements. The combination of a worse strain of adenovirus together with a fragile population has led to a more severe outbreak.
The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has been cited for violations of infection controls in the past. Adenovirus is often transported via particles being passed by sneezing and coughing and landing on other objects. Those objects are then touched by others who subsequently touch their mouths without washing their hands. Health department officials were sent to the facility on Sunday, October 21, 2018 and again on Tuesday, October 23, 2018. The facility was cited at that time for hand-washing deficiencies. The health department is continuing to work closely with the facility on infection control issues and has recommended vital measures to enhance protections.
Parents of children that are patients of the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation have complained about the facility’s transparency. At least one parent has stated that they learned of the viral outbreak by watching the news and that they were not advised of the outbreak by the facility. The facility has stated that they promptly notified the health department of the outbreak and that they are fully cooperating with the investigation and implementing all suggested controls. The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has been instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends.
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