An 11th child died in connection with an outbreak of adenovirus in a health care center in New Jersey that has sickened 23 others, state health officials said on Friday.
The boy was a resident of the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, about 30 miles west of Manhattan, where a new case of adenovirus was confirmed on Thursday night, the New Jersey Department of Health announced.
All children badociated with the outbreak in the facility have severely compromised immune systems and other serious medical problems, making them more susceptible to infection. They became ill between September 26 and November 12. A staff member was also infected but recovered, authorities said.
"The pain of losing a child is overwhelming and we extend our heartfelt condolences to this family and to all the families who have had to endure these terrible losses," said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, State Health Commissioner, in a statement. .
One reason for the spread of the virus at the facility was the lack of space to separate those who have symptoms from those who do not, said Elnahal.
"Until this week, it has not been possible to completely separate those patients," Elnahal told a news conference. "But now, due to the decrease in the census in the facilities, it is."
Health officials ordered that the facility not receive new admissions and that all patients must be separated before Wednesday.
The adenovirus strain, type 7, usually causes respiratory diseases and is not unusual in community settings such as nursing homes and military bases. A vaccine is available for the strain, although children at the Haskell medical center could not receive it because of their compromised immune system, the Health Department said.
After exposure to the virus, it takes two to 14 days for the symptoms to appear. The outbreak will be declared terminated if new infections are not confirmed after four weeks, officials said.
The outbreak was reported to the Department of Health for the first time on October 9. Late last month, state health officials said they inspected the facilities and determined there were deficiencies, but said none of them indicated substandard care.
"Every year in the state, there are hundreds of outbreaks in health centers," Elnahal said in a press release after the inspection. "Outbreaks in facilities can not always be prevented, but best practices can be used to minimize the possibility that they will occur among the most vulnerable patients in New Jersey."
The New Jersey Senate is planning a hearing in the coming weeks to see how the outbreak spread at the facility. State Senator Joseph Vitale (D), who chairs the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee of the Senate, expressed concern not only about the facilities but also about the state's response, NJ.com reported.