A 10th child died Wednesday in a viral outbreak at a New Jersey rehabilitation facility that’s sickened a total of 28 people since September, health officials said.
The child was a resident at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell and contracted adenovirus 7 before Oct. 22, New Jersey Health Department officials said in a news release. An adult staff member was among the 28 who contracted the virus and has since recovered.
“The loss of these young lives is heartbreaking, and our thoughts are with the families who are affected,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said in the recent news release. “We are working closely with the facility to conduct respiratory illness surveillance and ensure all infection control protocols are continuously followed. We are also engaging in discussions with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on standards for these facilities.”
Officials have ordered the facility to stop admitting new patients until the outbreak ends. They added an investigation is being conducted and there may be additional cases pending lab tests.
The children became ill between Sept. 26 and Oct. 29, leading to 10 children dying and other pediatric patients with severely compromised immune systems fighting for their lives.
Health officials linked the outbreak to the virus strand adenovirus 7 — most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease and can occur at any time throughout the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses, including the common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pink eye, fever, bladder infection, inflammation of the stomach or neurologic diseases. While they typically cause mild illnesses, people with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are at higher risk of developing a severe illness.
Earlier this week, the health department released findings from an unannounced inspection at the Haskell facility. The inspection, conducted on Oct. 21, showed the rehabilitation center had some deficiencies in handwashing and infection control.
Four of the six staff members observed were “deficient with their hand hygiene technique.”
“Now that the report is finalized, certain findings raise questions about whether these general long-term care standards are optimal for this vulnerable population of medically fragile children,” Elnahal said. “I will be engaging in collaborative discussions with CMS to assess how we can better align standards for theses pediatric long-term care facilities”
Some parents whose children have contracted the deadly virus are questioning if more could have been done to prevent the outbreak.
“Am I angry? I think what it is, I need to know information, I like facts,” Kristine Poulos, whose 16-year-old daughter Elizabeth had severe medical issues that required a breathing and feeding tube, told ABC7NY. “I just want to know what happened. She’s gone, I can’t bring her back, she’s not coming back.”
Fox News' Alexandra Hein contributed to this report.