Six children dead, 12 sick in viral outbreak at New Jersey facility

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

Initially the state health department confirmed six children had died.

A day earlier, state health officials confirmed the outbreak of cases of adenovirus at the center in Haskell in Passaic County. The 227-bed, for-profit facility cares for children and elderly residents.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement, saying he was "heartbroken" over the deaths. "We have been working closely with the facility since then".

Adenoviruses are a group of common viruses that typically cause mild illnesses, from cold-like symptoms to conjunctivitis. Some strains also cause diarrhea and or pinkeye.

Different strains of adenoviruses can cause a range of illnesses, including common cold symptoms, bronchitis, pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The children at the Wanaque Center fit into this category. It's unlikely that there's a broader threat, he said.

"We are deeply concerned by reports suggesting that Wanaque Center may have kept the severity of this outbreak from family members and staff".

"Additionally, the unionized staff have urged administration to provide adequate supplies to protect patients from cross contamination including protective gowns, gloves and masks which can reduce patients' exposure to the virus", she added.

The center was instructed by the Health Department not to admit any new patients while there is an "ongoing outbreak investigation" underway at the facility in Haskell. By Saturday, the department had sent inspectors who found a handwashing deficiency.

State officials were first notified of respiratory illnesses at the center on October 9, officials said.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East represents 136 workers at Wanaque Center including certified nursing assistants, dietary aides, housekeepers, and laundry aides.

The centre referred questions to a spokesman, who said late Wednesday that he was preparing a statement. reported in August that the parents of the infant who died, Melanie Sanders, are suing the hospital for negligence.

"Most of the time, adenoviruses produce influenza-like illness with a cough and runny nose and feeling crummy, but you get better", Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University said.