A serious virus outbreak at a children's hospital in New Jersey has killed six children and infected twelve others, the health ministry said Tuesday.
The outbreak occurred at the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Haskell, in northern New Jersey. The center's website says it treats "medically fragile children" in its Pediatrics Center.
The Department of Health said that it is conducting an in-center investigation and that the facility has been instructed not to accept new patients by the end of the outbreak. It was not clear when the children died and there was no information about their age.
Health Department inspectors arrived at the Wanaque Center on Sunday and found "minor hand wash defects," the department said in a statement The outbreak, the agency said, was a special strain of adenovirus that often causes mild respiratory conditions such as cold and bronchitis, Adenovirus rarely causes serious illness, especially in young children, but can be fatal for people with weakened immune systems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adenovirus can be found on surfaces such as door knobs, objects and water in swimming pools and small lakes. The virus is particularly associated with communal living facilities.
The children at the Wanaque Center are pediatric long-term care residents. Some rely on respirators and tracheal tubes.
"Combining a poorer strain of adenovirus with a fragile population has led to a more serious outbreak," said the department.
The Department of Health said they have recommended several steps to control the infection of the facility, including the use of a disinfectant for the hospital, which is effective against the virus, quarantining sick patients, ensuring that employees wear gloves and masks, and enforcing the facility correct hand washing.
A voicemail message to the director of nursing at the Wanaque center on Tuesday was not returned immediately.
Outbreaks of adenovirus have been fatal in community care facilities in the past. In 2003 two people died in Yonkers in a nursing home for disabled children and adults.