Adenovirus Outbreak In New Jersey Kills 6 Children, Sickens 12 More

The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed 18 cases of the virus on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the strain of the virus has been "particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities".

Adenoviruses are prolific viruses that can cause a variety of illnesses, including upper respiratory infections - such as colds - as well as pneumonia, gastrointestinal illness, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and even urinary tract infections.

The strain in the New Jersey outbreak is No. 7 and is affecting "medically fragile" children with severely compromised immune systems, according to the Health Department.

As its investigation continues, the Center has been instructed not to admit new patients. A inspection team sent to the facility on Sunday found some "minor" hand-washing deficiencies, which could have contributed to the outbreak.

The various strains of adenovirus can cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from common colds to neurologic conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For example in 1997, an outbreak of adenovirus 7 at a U.S. Navy training center sickened more than 350 people, according to a 2002 report. It was not clear when the children died, and there was no information provided on their ages.

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The department said it was notified of respiratory illness at the Wannaque Center on October 9, and has been in close communication with officials there since.

"The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has recently experienced some cases of the Adenovirus in its pediatric unit".

The facility's pediatrics center serves newborns to 22-year-olds who are "medically fragile" and provides an individualized program for each child, the center's website said.

New patients are being barred from going to the facility until the outbreak is over.

A voice mail message left for the director of nursing at the Wanaque Center on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

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