A New Jersey long term care facility is the at the center of an adenovirus outbreak that has claimed the lives of 7 children and sickened at least 11 others.
Wanaque Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Haskell, New Jersey, has stopped taking new patients but is facing criticism after it was revealed that a health inspection over the weekend found hand washing deficiencies. It is unknown when the spread of the virus began, but the facility notified the New Jersey Department of Health of the outbreak on October 9th. The CDC is also investigating the outbreak.
NBC News says that the facility was also cited in 2016 and in 2017 for other infection prevention deficiencies, including issues with hand washing, improper storage of syringes, failure to disinfect surfaces and syringes properly and the unsanitary storage of oxygen tank tubing.
What is Adenovirus?
Adenovirus is a relatively common group of viruses that mildly affect those of us with healthy immune systems and present as a cold or “bug.” According to NBC news, “adenoviruses usually cause mild infections of the respiratory tracts, eyes, intestines, urinary tracts, and nervous systems of young children.” In those who are ill or immunocompromised, such as the elderly or in this case, children with serious medical conditions, the virus can be more serious. The particular strain that has been identified at Wanaque Center is adenovirus #7, a strain that affects the respiratory system.
Dr. John Torres, an NBC News Medical Contributor told the Today show this morning that this strain of the virus is hard to get rid of because it adheres to surfaces and is difficult to clean. The virus is also easily transmitted from person to person, making it hard to control in shared settings such as rehab centers, schools, college dormitories, and nursing homes.
Mother of Sickened Child Says Wanaque Center Withheld Information
This morning, Paula Costigan, the mother of a sickened 14-year-old Wanaque patient told the Today show that she wasn’t notified of her son’s illness until he was very sick. One of his lungs had completely shut down before he was transferred to a nearby hospital in Hackensack, NJ. She says she will be moving her son to a different facility, telling NBC “if this was to happen again, he might not survive it next time.”
The facility has said they’ve stepped up infection prevention measures by increasing hand washing and wearing gloves and masks.