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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A deadly virus outbreak in North Jersey has killed a seventh child as health officials race to contain the situation.
The outbreak is happening at the Wanaque Center, a facility that takes care of severely sick and disabled children. Some of the children are on ventilators. So far, 18 children have been infected with the virus.
The New Jersey Health Department has ordered the center to stop admitting patients until the adenovirus outbreak ends.
The adenovirus outbreak in Haskell is centered at the Wanaque Center – a facility that provides long-term care for “medically fragile children,” ranging from newborns up to age 22.
An inspection found “minor handwashing deficiencies” at the location. The state health department says it is working “closely with the facility on infection control issues.”
Adenoviruses make up about 5 to 10 percent of fevers in young children. The infection spreads like the common cold and most patients recover after a brief illness.
This strain of adenovirus has been associated with communal living.
“It’s a combination of the strain that you get and the person who gets the strain, if they’re immunocompromised or already fragile from a health perspective, they’re more susceptible to have serious complications from the virus,” said Dr. Frederick Randolph, of Jefferson Health.
Randolph says the virus isn’t usually dangerous for most healthy people, who are exposed to it all the time. It’s easily spread.
“The same way a cold does, hand-to-hand contact, coughing, touching surfaces, adenovirus is a particularly robust virus, which is not good for us, meaning that it can live on surfaces for weeks at a time and is not necessarily killed by wiping surfaces with typical cleaning agents,” explained Randolph.
Doctors say handwashing is the best prevention and an important reminder with the upcoming cold and flu season.
Investigators say it’s unclear what started the outbreak in North Jersey.
There has been no comment from the center so far, but it is cooperating with health officials.