6 children dead in viral outbreak at NJ health facility

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The state Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed the 18 cases of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell in Passaic County.

These patients' preexisting health issues, as well as their shared environment, may have facilitated the spread of adenovirus, according to the state health department.

Adenovirus, according to the health department, are a family of viruses that often cause mild illness, particularly in young children.

"The combination of a worse strain of adenovirus together with a fragile population has led to a more severe outbreak", it added.

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"This strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities", the department said in a statement. The health department says "minor handwashing deficiencies" were found at the facility on Sunday. A team was sent back Tuesday.

A team from the Department of Health is investigating the possible causes of the outbreak. "As a result, facility staff have diligently implemented all available infection control and prevention measures in order to protect the health and safety of the Wanaque Center's residents".

Adenoviruses are responsible for about 10 percent of fever-related infections among U.S. children, and most children will have at least one type of infection by age 10.

The facility houses an adult nursing home, a rehabilitation center and a pediatrics unit.

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Different strains of adenoviruses can cause a range of illnesses, including common cold symptoms, bronchitis, pneumonia and diarrhoea. The center has pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation, and has solicited medical guidance on the virus, the AP reported.

A team from the health department is at the facility and an inspection team was there Sunday, as well.

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

The center helps educate "medically fragile children", according to its website.

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