What Is Adenovirus? Everything Parents Need To Know About The Fatal Outbreak In New Jersey

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Recently, there has been a frightening new outbreak of adenovirus in New Jersey. For parents both in the state and across the country, this news is alarming, but many people are asking the same question: what is adenovirus? Here is everything parents need to know about the fatal outbreak in New Jersey.

Seven children have died due to adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey, with 11 more currently infected, as reported by BBC.

On Oct. 9, the health department was notified about a respiratory illness at Wanaque, and parents of children at the facility were notified by letters from Wanaque on Oct. 19, according to CNN. The state health department said, according to CNN, that the facility has been "instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance."

Although specific information regarding the children, such as their ages, has not been released, Wanaque's pediatric center works with "medically fragile" children. According to its website, Wanaque works with children ranging in age from newborn to 22 years old.

This is obviously heartbreaking news to hear, but many people are confused about what this virus is, and where it has come from.

Adenovirus refers to not one particular virus, but instead a group of common ones that can "infect the lining of your eyes, airways and lungs, intestines, urinary tracts, and nervous system," according to Web MD. The outlet also noted that you can sometimes blame things like fever, diarrhea, pink eye, and coughs on adenovirus.

Because adenovirus refers to a group of different viruses, there's also different ways they can spread. That includes through personal contact, coughing or sneezing, or even touching something that could have adenoviruses on it, as outlined by the CDC.

In most cases, adenoviruses only cause minor infections that get better on their own, as noted by Web MD, but they can also cause more severe infections in people who have weakened or compromised immune systems — especially kids.

This outbreak was specifically caused by adenovirus type 7, as reported by CNN. In a statement dated Oct. 23, the health department noted this outbreak is "affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems." The health department said that this strain has been associated with "disease in communal living arrangements and can be more severe."

The health department noted in its statement that it had detected "minor hand washing deficiencies." Nurses at the facility also reported a shortage of both staff and supplies in a recent statement from the union representing the nursing staff.

In a review by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Wanaque was given an above average ranking in overall quality. However, it received a below average health inspection rating. The CMS reported, based on an August inspection, that the facility "failed to provide a clean and homelike physical environment for their residents."

The investigation is still ongoing, so there is no clear answer about what led to the outbreak. But, for many parents, this is clearly a moment of tragedy. Hopefully, they will receive answers soon.