Deadly viral outbreak in New Jersey claims seventh child

Kristine Poulos with her daughter Elizabeth

Kristine Poulos with her daughter Elizabeth

TRENTON, N.J. -Another young person has died in a viral outbreak at a pediatric rehabilitation center, bringing the death toll to seven, officials said Wednesday.

"The strain of adenovirus seen in this outbreak is associated with communal living arrangements and known to cause severe illness", the statement on Wednesday reads.

Speaking with the state health commissioner yesterday, Schepisi learned that the department has no mechanism to fine facilities for failing to communicate outbreak information to patients' families.

Most of those who died in the adenovirus outbreak were under 18, but at least one was a young adult, the state Health Department said.

Children who require ventilators for breathing are among those treated at Wanaque.

In the statement, the DOH said Wanaque had been "instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance".

"Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems", the New Jersey Health Department said in an October 23 statement.

The six deaths happened this month, according to Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner. He described the patients in an interview as "fragile".

The virus was confirmed to be the cause of 18 infections in "medically fragile" pediatric residents at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell earlier this week.

The center's president, Debbie White, said that "As the staff works to contain the spread of the virus, they will also continue to advocate for stronger protocols and implementation of infection control policies".

The center referred questions to a spokesman, who said he was preparing a statement for release later Wednesday.

"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 employee", Murphy said.

The CDC is providing technical assistance to the state Health Department.

Health officials found minor hand-washing deficiencies at the facility during visits on Tuesday and Sunday, and were working with the center on infection-control issues, the health department said.