An 11th child has died in connection with an adenovirus outbreak at a health care facility in New Jersey that has sickened 23 others, state health officials said on Friday.
The child was a resident of the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, roughly 30 miles west of Manhattan, where a new adenovirus case was confirmed on Thursday night, the New Jersey Department of Health announced.
All of the children associated with the outbreak at the facility have severely compromised immune systems and other serious medical issues, making them more susceptible to the infection. They became ill between Sept. 26 and Nov. 12. One staff member was also infected but recovered, officials said.
“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,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in a statement.
A reason for the virus’ spread at the facility was a lack of space to separate those with symptoms from those without, Elnahal said.
“Up until this week, it has not been possible to completely separate those patients,” Elnahal said at a news conference. “But now, due to decreasing census at the facility, it is.”
Health officials ordered that the facility will receive no new admissions and that all of the patients must be separated by Wednesday.
The strain of adenovirus, type 7, most commonly causes respiratory illness and is not unusual in communal settings like nursing homes and military bases. A vaccine is available for the strain, though the children at the Haskell medical facility were unable to receive it because of their compromised immune systems, the Department of Health said.
It takes two to 14 days after being exposed to the virus for symptoms to appear. The outbreak will be declared over if no new infections are confirmed after four weeks, officials said.
The outbreak was first reported to the Department of Health on Oct. 9. Late last month, state health officials said they inspected the facility and determined that there were deficiencies but said none of them indicated substandard care.
“Every year in the state, there are hundreds of outbreaks at healthcare facilities,” Elnahal said in a news release following the inspection. “Facility outbreaks are not always preventable, but best practices can be used to minimize the chance they occur among the most vulnerable patients in New Jersey.”
New Jersey’s Senate is planning a hearing in the coming weeks to look into how the outbreak spread at the facility. State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D), who chairs the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, has expressed concerns about not just the facility but also the state’s response, NJ.com reported.