6 children dead, 12 sick in viral outbreak at rehab center

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Police cruisers are seen parked near the entrance 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) Police cruisers are seen parked near the entrance 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)

A severe viral outbreak at a New Jersey rehabilitation center for “medically fragile children” has left six youngsters dead and 12 others sick, the state Health Department said Tuesday.

There have been 18 cases of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of New York, the New Jersey Health Department said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an email that it is providing technical assistance to the state. In the past 10 years, cases of severe illness and death from the type of infection found at the facility have been reported in the United States, said CDC spokeswoman Kate Fowlie in an email, though it’s unclear how many deaths there have been.

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

The Health Department didn’t release the ages of the victims or address the severity of the illness in the other dozen cases.

The six deaths happened this month, according to Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner.

The facility was instructed not to admit new patients until the outbreak ends, and the Health Department said the number of new cases appears to be decreasing.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said these kinds of fatalities are not common, but they’re known to happen.

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