A ninth child has died of respiratory illness at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in the Haskell section of Wanaque, New Jersey, the state’s Department of Health announced Sunday morning.
The latest victim was someone who had a confirmed case of adenovirus and fell ill before Oct. 22.
There have been 25 pediatric cases associated with the outbreak. A staff member also was ill but has recovered, according to the health department.
Of those 25 pediatric cases, eight of the deaths were in children with confirmed adenovirus. The Department of Health does not have laboratory confirmation of adenovirus for the child who died Friday afternoon.
Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal called the situation “tragic” in a news release before going on to say that the department was “working every day to ensure all infection control protocols are continuously followed and closely monitoring the situation at the facility.”
So far, all of the people associated with the outbreak became ill between Sept. 26 and Oct. 22.
Children in the facility’s pediatric ventilator unit had severely compromised immune systems before the outbreak began. Lab tests could confirm additional cases, the health department said.
The first case of a patient with the adenovirus was noted Sept. 26. The New Jersey Health Department was notified of a "cluster of respiratory illnesses" at the center Oct. 9, after the office closed for the day. Health officials began surveillance work at the facility the next morning.
The type of adenovirus virus involved in this outbreak is associated with communal living arrangements and is known to cause severe illness – especially in those with compromised immune systems. Adenoviruses are common viruses that affect the lining of the airways, intestines, eyes or urinary tract and are responsible for some colds, coughs, sore throats, pinkeye and diarrhea. Usually the illnesses are mild, but they can be deadly for people with weakened immune systems.
In a news conference Wednesday outside the facility, Elnahal said it may be "impossible or difficult to know" how the virus got to the facility.
Health officials have given out little information about the deaths, such as if they occurred at the center or at a hospital. They would not say when the first six deaths occurred, only that the children died in October. They have not disclosed the ages of the children who have died, saying only that they ranged in age from "toddlers through young adult."