Training teams sent to centers amid deadly viral outbreaks

October 29, 2018
A general look of the marquee outside of the Wanaque Center For Nursing And Rehabilitation, where New Jersey state Health Department confirmed the 18 cases of adenovirus, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in Haskell, N.J. The outbreak has left six children dead and 12 others sick. The facility has been told it can't admit any new patients until the outbreak ends. Adenoviruses usually just cause mild illnesses. But officials say this outbreak is particularly severe because it's affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems. They also note this strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey health officials said Monday they are sending infection-control teams to four long-term pediatric centers and a hospital to assist with training amid viral and bacterial outbreaks that have left 10 people dead.

The teams will assess infection prevention practices and deploy beginning in November, according to Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal.

The response comes amid a fatal adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation that left 9 people dead, most under age 18. In addition, a premature baby died following the discovery of a bacterial infection at Newark’s University Hospital this month, state health officials have said.

“Facility outbreaks are not always preventable, but in response to what we have seen in Wanaque, we are taking aggressive steps to minimize the chance they occur among the most vulnerable patients in New Jersey,” Elnahal said in a statement.

Those affected at the Wanaque center range in age from toddlers to young adults.

Adenovirus usually poses little risk for healthy people and typically causes mild cold or flu symptoms. Some strains also cause diarrhea and pinkeye.

The strain found in the rehab center outbreak — type 7 — is among the more potent types and sometimes causes more serious respiratory illness, especially among those with weak immune systems.

The first symptoms showed up Sept. 26, and the state was notified of an outbreak Oct. 9, officials said. The department said later Monday there have been 26 adenovirus cases confirmed at the center.

The agency said the most recent individual became sick on or before Oct. 22, which remains the last day when a patient showed new symptoms.

The 227-bed, for-profit facility has a pediatric center and also cares for elderly residents.

No new residents are being admitted for the duration of the outbreak, which won’t be declared over until the center can go four weeks without any new cases.

At the hospital, the state health department earlier said it found four Acinetobacter baumannii cases since Oct. 1. The baby had the bacterium and was transferred to another facility, where it died.

The department said the exact cause of death is under investigation. There were compounding medical conditions.

The bacterium can cause pneumonia or serious blood or wound infections.

Those cases are not related to the virus at the Wanaque center, the Health Department said.


The story has been updated to show the commissioner’s first name is Shereef, not Shereer, and the number of deaths at Wanaque is 9, not 10.

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