The Latest: NJ center says it acted to stop spread of virus

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on a fatal viral outbreak in New Jersey (all times local):


The New Jersey pediatric rehabilitation center where a severe viral outbreak resulted in the deaths of seven young people says it took “immediate and comprehensive” action to prevent infection.

The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation said Wednesday that its top concern is for the “health and safety of its patients, their families and staff.”

State officials said Wednesday that seven people, mostly children, died from the adenovirus outbreak.

Officials and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy say a widespread public health crisis is unlikely since the young people with the virus are particularly at risk because they have weakened immune systems.


5:40 p.m.

Health officials say the first symptoms associated with the deadly viral outbreak at nursing facility in northern New Jersey showed up Sept. 26, two weeks before the state was notified of an outbreak.

State health officials were notified Oct. 9 of the adenovirus infections at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.

But state health commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal told a news conference Wednesday that it’s always difficult to know exactly when an actual outbreak begins.

Seven patients, mostly children, have died this month as a result of being infected with the virus. Eleven others are recovering.

The health commissioner says that all the infections occurred in the facility’s respiratory, or ventilator unit.

Some pediatric patients at the rehab center have been there most or all of their lives.


4:50 p.m.

The head of a New Jersey nurses union says staff nurses at a rehab center where a viral outbreak has killed seven patients complained about staffing shortages, which they say might lead to poor infection control.

Deborah White is president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union. She says in a statement that the 70 nurses represented by the union are working to contain the spread of the adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation “under difficult circumstances.” She notes what the nurses say are dangerous staffing shortages.

At least 18 pediatric patients at the facility were infected with the adenovirus that as of Wednesday evening had killed seven people, including many children and at least one young adult.

The facility’s 2016 inspection noted a shortage of clinical nursing assistants that ranged from about 6 percent to 12 percent of the needed coverage during several days of monitoring in March. Later inspections did not note the problem.


1:40 p.m.

New Jersey’s health commissioner says it’s unlikely a viral outbreak at a pediatric rehabilitation center that left seven “medically fragile” people dead will pose a wider threat.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in an interview with the Associated Press Wednesday he doesn’t “see a major outbreak risk in the community.”

He says that’s because the adenovirus that infected at least 18 pediatric patients at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, in Haskell, commonly results in only mild illnesses among people with healthy immune systems.

The health department says most of those who died were under 18. At least one is a young adult. Health officials had been describing all those infected as children, which is the way the health facility describes its pediatric patients even though it says some are as old as 22.

Federal inspectors over the past few years found isolated violations of rules governing infection control.


9:30 a.m.

Another child has died following a severe viral outbreak at a New Jersey rehabilitation center for “medically fragile children,” bringing the death toll to seven.

There have been 18 cases overall of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of New York, the state Health Department said. The 227-bed, for-profit facility cares for children and elderly residents.

The agency had said Tuesday that six children had died this month. But the center said it learned Tuesday night that another child had died.

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

The Health Department hasn’t released the names or the ages of the victims.

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