17 Facts About The Adenovirus Outbreak In New Jersey
In late October, New Jersey health officials announced that that 29 children and one staff member at a health facility in Haskell, N.J. were sick with adenovirus. As of November 7, 2018, 10 of the sick children had died. Adenovirus is a common type of virus that can infect many parts of the body, including the lungs, throat, eyes (pink eye), intestines, and nervous system. Children and the elderly are most at risk of serious complications from this virus. The Wanaque Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Haskell, N.J. is a nursing facility for disabled children and the elderly.
1. The Center Where Adenovirus Broke Out Takes Care of Disabled Children
Adenovirus first broke out in September at the Wanaque Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Haskell in Passaic County. The virus is usually mild and lasts only a few days but can be deadly to sick children and the elderly. The Wanaque Center is a nursing home serving the elderly and disabled children.
2. The Sick Children Are “Medically Fragile”
Medically fragile children have long-term medical conditions. The children who live at the Wanaque Center where adenovirus broke out have health conditions which require 24-hour nursing care and supervision. They are the most vulnerable to infections like adenovirus.
3. Adenovirus Can Infect Several Parts of the Body
Adenovirus can infect the nose, throat, and chest. It can cause fever and lead to pneumonia. It can also infect the stomach and intestines. At the same time, it could infect the brain and spinal cord. If it affects the eyes, it causes “pink eye” or conjunctivitis.
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4. The Sick Children Had Compromised Immune Systems
The New Jersey Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal reported that all of the infected children at the Wanaque Center had “compromised immune systems.” Some of the children had respiratory problems making them more vulnerable.
5. Adenovirus Spreads Easily
Adenovirus spreads through close personal contact. It also spreads through the air, including sneezing and coughing. People can be infected when they touch a surface it is on, and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes.
6. There are 52 Different Types of Adenovirus
The adenovirus that infected the children in New Jersey was a respiratory type of the virus. Scientists have discovered 52 types of adenovirus. One of the types is known as “the common cold”.
7. Adenovirus and Other Viruses Don’t Respond to Antibiotics
Some anti-viral medications have been developed, but aren’t available for adenovirus. Antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicillin won’t stop the adenovirus. The body’s own immune system has to fight them off.
8. An Adenovirus “Killer Cold” Has Killed Children Before
Adenovirus struck down children in Texas and New York and infected people in other states in 2006 and 2007, leading to the deaths of 10 children. The adenovirus over 10 years ago was adenovirus 14. It known as the “Killer Cold,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.
9. The Virus at Wanaque Center is Adenovirus Type 7
The New Jersey Department of Public Health reported that the adenovirus that infected the children at the Wanaque Center is adenovirus type 7. This type of adenovirus infects the respiratory system and can be very serious. It is detected through DNA-based lab testing.
10. More Cases Were Discovered At A Second Center in Voorhees
After news came out about the children getting sick at the Wanaque Center, more cases were discovered at another children’s health center in Voorhees, New Jersey. A total of five sick children have been diagnosed in Voorhees and none have died. Testing has uncovered that a milder kind of the virus, adenovirus 3 , is the culprit and the two outbreaks probably aren’t connected.
11. Adenovirus Symptoms Can Show Up Anywhere From Two to Fourteen Days After Being Infected
Adenovirus can ‘incubate’ for as little as two days or as long as two weeks before symptoms show up. Depending on which of the 52 different adenoviruses is causing the infections, symptoms can start differently. Adenoviruses that affect the lungs and nose start with sneezing, coughing, and fever. Adenoviruses that infect the stomach and intestines can start with fever, cramps, diarrhea, and abdominal swelling.
12. Comedian and Radio Host Joe Piscopo Discussed the Outbreak on His Show
Joe Piscopo, former SNL comedian, Jersey native, and radio host, discussed the adenovirus outbreak on his show on AM 970 with State Assemblyman Robert Auth. Some parents of children who have died are asking for the Wanaque facility to be closed.
13. Adenovirus Can Cause Chronic Lung Disease
According to Boston Children’s Hospital, some types of adenovirus can turn into a chronic lung disease. This form of the virus is rare but it is fatal in 10% of the children who get it.
14. Parents of A Child Who Died Want Wanaque Shut Down
Four-year-old Dorcase Dolcin was one of the children who died at the Wanaque Center and her parents Ocroimy Dolcin and Modeline Auguste have told news agencies that they want the center to be closed. Dorcase was born with disabilities and immune system problems. The parents believe Dorcase was neglected, leading to her infection and death only a few weeks after her fourth birthday.
15. You Can Prevent Adenovirus With Good Health Habits
One kind of adenovirus is “the common cold.” You can prevent the mild or severe types of adenovirus with good health habits. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching surfaces and then your eyes, nose, and mouth.
16. Adenovirus Can Live Between One Week and Three Months Outside the Body
Adenovirus can live outside the body on surfaces for a week, and in some cases up to three months, according to Health Canada. Bleach and heat will kill adenoviruses, but hand sanitizers won’t. Keep sick children at home and use good health habits to prevent infections.
17. The New Jersey Health Department Has a Health Team At the Wanaque Center
After the outbreak was confirmed, the New Jersey Department of Health stationed a team of disease prevention professionals at Wanaque. The Center has been cited for unsanitary conditions and poor patient care in previous years. The Wanaque outbreak is severe, but according to the New Jersey Health Department, “hundreds of outbreaks occur at health facilities” in the state every year.