By Camille Furst
Between Sept. 26 and Oct. 30, the New Jersey Department of Health reported that 27 pediatric patients at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey contracted a viral infection and that 10 children have died as a result of this illness.
Patients at the center range in age from toddlers to young adults, according to CNN.
The outbreak is known as an adenovirus, and has in some cases compromised patients’ ability to breathe without assistance. Adenovirus can cause symptoms such as a common cold, sore throat, bronchitis and pneumonia, according to the state’s Department of Health report from Oct. 31.
The department has been working closely with staff to control further spread of the infection, which can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing or by touching a contaminated surface or person, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Pathogens are known to grow on unclean surfaces, and while they normally do not cause such sickness in healthy people, those with compromised immune systems are at a greater risk.
“I’m upset that the kids I took care of –– that were all getting better and getting stronger and learning to walk –– are now dead,” said former Wanaque Center employee Javier Guzman, according to CNN.
There have also been four recently reported cases of the same virus found at Voorhees Pediatric Facility in Voorhees, New Jersey, according to CNN. However, preliminary tests done there show that the virus is of a different strain and that no one in Vorhees is currently in critical condition.
The New Jersey Department of Health stated that it will not officially say the outbreak has finished until four weeks have passed since the last onset, according to the Oct. 31 report.
Current and former staff at the Wanaque Center believe that the infection could have been prevented, and nurses agree that a shortage of both supplies and nursing staff may have contributed to the spread of the virus, according to CNN. During an unannounced inspection conducted on Oct. 21, inspectors found unhealthy hand hygiene in four of six staffers, but they also reported other satisfactory health practices.
In an effort to prevent further outbreaks, the New Jersey Department of Health stated in its report from Oct. 29 that it will be sending infection control experts to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and four pediatric healthcare facilities in New Jersey to further train employees on infection control procedures.