Six children have already died, while 12 others are ill amid the ongoing adenovirus outbreak at a New Jersey rehabilitation center.
Adenoviruses are considered common, so what happened to the children at the center?
Children Affected By Adenovirus Outbreak
On Oct. 23, the New Jersey Department of Health confirmed 18 cases of adenovirus among children patients at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell. The announcement states that six of the 18 affected children have already died and that the adenovirus strain that affected the children is particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and may be more severe.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy states that he has already been briefed about the cases and has been assured that the Department of Health has an ongoing surveillance at the center. The department has also given vital recommendations to prevent the spread of the infection. For instance, the facility has been instructed not to admit any new patients until the illness outbreak has ended.
“I am heartbroken by the news that several children have lost their lives in an adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, and pray for the full recovery of the other children impacted,” said Governor Murphy. “I am confident that the steps being taken by state and local officials will minimize the impact to all those who remain at the facility, including patients and employees.”
Compromised Immune Systems
Typically, adenoviruses affect the tissue lining in the eyes, respiratory tract, intestines, and nervous system. Common illnesses include bronchitis, pink eye, sore throat, diarrhea, and pneumonia. It is passed on from person to person through close personal contact, through the air by coughing and sneezing, or by touching objects contaminated with adenoviruses and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.
However, the children at the center are actually quite ill — several are disabled, and some are in a comatose. The center also acted as a permanent home for some of the children. As such, they have severely compromised immune systems and are hence more susceptible to disease.
Preventing Adenovirus Infections
As mentioned, adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illnesses, from pneumonia to pink eye. Anyone of any age can get infected with adenoviruses, but those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infections.
To get protected from adenovirus infections, it is important to stay at home when sick, cover one’s mouth when coughing or sneezing, properly wash the hands with soap and water often, avoid being in contact with ill persons, and avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.