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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Health officials say an 11th patient has died amid an outbreak of a respiratory virus at a care facility in New Jersey. As a result, the New Jersey Department of Health has taken enforcement action against the center that’s in northern New Jersey.
The state health department on Friday confirmed that the “severely ill child” at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation had the adenovirus infection. The youth died Thursday night in a hospital, but further details about the child were not disclosed.
The department says the child was among 34 pediatric cases that have been associated with the outbreak. Ordinarily, a common cold virus is not dangerous but this severe strain is a different case.
“Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus (#7) in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems. The strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be more severe,” the New Jersey Department of Health said in a statement last month.
The New Jersey health commissioner has now taken the highly unusual step of asking respiratory therapists, and the state’s Medical Reserve Corps, to volunteer to help at the long-term care center.
“We asked them to assist the facility and in separating sick and well patients,” explains Dr. Shereef Elnahal.
The separation is important because the virus is spread from one infected person to another through close personal contact. Apparently, the facility wasn’t able to do that quickly which is why the outbreak has been so severe.
“Up until this week, it has not been possible to completely separate those patients given the census there and facility constraints, but now due to decreasing census at the facility, it is,” adds Dr. Elnahal.
The department is requiring the Wanaque Center to complete the separation of the pediatric respiratory patients by Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Officials say the affected children became ill between Sept. 26 and Nov. 12 and had severely compromised immune systems. An additional positive adenovirus case was confirmed late Thursday night.
One staff member was also confirmed with the virus but has since recovered.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)