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A Respiratory Virus Outbreak In 18 Children Has Resulted In 7 Deaths

Adenovirus typically causes coldlike symptoms, but the strain that’s spreading in the outbreak has killed some “medically fragile children.”

Last updated on October 24, 2018, at 9:54 a.m. ET

Posted on October 23, 2018, at 5:11 p.m. ET

CDC / Dr. G. William Gary Jr. / Via

Seven children have died and 11 others are sick from an outbreak of adenovirus at a nursing and rehabilitation center in New Jersey.

The outbreak is affecting children who have compromised immune systems and were considered “medically fragile” before getting infected, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, which is investigating the outbreak.

Adenoviruses are common and usually result in mild infections. They can cause cold symptoms, like a runny nose and coughing, as well as a sore throat, bronchitis, pink eye, diarrhea, and in severe cases, pneumonia.

The strain in this outbreak, known as adenovirus type 7, “has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be more severe,” the agency said.

The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey, offers short- and long-term care for children and adults. The center is not admitting any new patients until the outbreak ends. When the facility was inspected Sunday, the Department of Health “found minor handwashing deficiencies.”

The facility treats very sick children, some of whom require a ventilator to breathe, according to Nicole Kirgan, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Health.

“Specific ages and medical information is not being released at this time to protect patient privacy,” Kirgan said in an email.

Adenovirus 7 has been known to cause outbreaks of lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, in young children and people with compromised immune systems.

It has also been known to cause outbreaks of fever associated with conjunctivitis, or pink eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to the Wanaque Center for comment.


This story was updated to reflect the fact that there has been an additional death in the outbreak.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.