February 20, 2019

19th case confirmed in viral outbreak that killed 7

28 October 2018, 05:44 | Silvia Roy

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal left speaks about the adenovirus outbreak as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy looks on

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal left speaks about the adenovirus outbreak as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy looks on

Kristine Poulos told WABC-TV that she had been notified of her daughter contracting adenovirus about five days before state health officials were alerted on October 9, and that she wondered why they couldn't have reported it sooner.

New Jersey health officials said Thursday tests confirmed a 19th patient has been infected in a viral outbreak at a pediatric rehabilitation center that has killed seven people.

Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner said Thursday the person had already been ill so the diagnosis does not necessarily mean the virus is still spreading.

The first symptoms of adenovirus showed up a month ago at the facility, a 227-bed, for-profit center that has a pediatric unit but also cares for elderly residents.

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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.

There have been 18 cases of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, about 30 miles (50 kilometres ) northwest of NY, the New Jersey Health Department said in a statement. "The consequences here have been drastic, and this has been absolutely wrenching for families, community members, our department, myself personally and the governor".

Adenoviruses are a group of virus strands that can cause a wide range of illnesses from cold-like symptoms to bronchitis or conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye.

The strain afflicting the children is usually associated with acute respiratory illness, according to the CDC, which on its website instructs health workers to report unusual clusters to state or local health departments.

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Numerous children at the facility require ventilators for breathing, and some have spent all or most of their lives there, the commissioner said. In an interview, he described the patients as "fragile". It's unlikely that there's a broader threat, he said.

The identities of those who died and the affected patients have not been disclosed.

"The Health Department is continuing to work closely with the facility on infection control issues", the department said in a statement.

The Health Department didn't release the ages of the victims or address the severity of the illness in the other dozen cases.

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Health officials said they have teams at the facility monitoring the infection, and the center has closed to new patients.

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