6 kids dead in adenovirus outbreak at NJ hospital

The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed 18 cases of the virus on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the strain of the virus has been "particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities".

Adenoviruses often cause mild illness, particularly in young children, but people with weakened immune systems are at risk of getting severely sick, according to the CDC.

Health department officials were at the centre on Tuesday and also on Sunday and found minor hand-washing deficiencies, the department said.

A further investigation is ongoing.

Adenoviruses are part of a group of viruses that can infect the membranes or tissue lining of the respiratory tract, eyes, intestines, urinary tract and nervous system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The NJ Department of Health was notified by the facility on October 9 of some respiratory illnesses", said Donna Leusner, a spokeswoman for the department.

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The Health Department didn't release the ages of the victims or address the severity of the illness in the other dozen cases.

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

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement, saying he was "heartbroken" over the deaths. Symptoms can range from a sore throat and fever to intestinal inflammation and neurological disease.

The center's administrator says its fully cooperating with county, state and federal agencies and has sought out their medical guidance with respect to the virus.

A scientific paper cited by the CDC reported that a 1998 outbreak of type 7 adenovirus at a pediatric chronic-care facility in Chicago claimed the lives of eight patients.

The facility's paediatrics centre serves newborns to 22-year-olds who are "medically fragile" and provides an individualized program for each child, the centre's website said.

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