After 11 children died, NJ has plan to avoid future outbreak
WANAQUE — After an adenovirus outbreak at a North Jersey pediatric long-term care facility led to the deaths of 11 children and three dozen confirmed cases, state health officials have released recommendations to avoid such an outcome in the future with an infection control plan.
All of the victims who died in fall 2018 were patients at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.
The Department of Health on Thursday released a report recommending all facilities with pediatric and adult ventilator beds have a plan that allows for being able to separate contaminated patients as quickly as possible.
The report also recommends requiring facilities to adopt the following:
— Ensure that parents and guardians of residents are immediately notified of outbreaks
— Hire a full-time infection control professional
— Have an agreement in place to consult with an infectious disease specialist during an outbreak.
— Train all staff in infection control policies every six months, including protocols for identifying employees and visitors who display signs of illness.
Strengthening the ability of local health departments to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases was another recommendation in the report. That issue was included in Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget, through $2.5 million in competitive grant funding.
The state Health Department’s Communicable Disease Service also will develop a respiratory virus outbreak preparedness checklist to help facilities prepare for outbreaks.
“Ensuring that all staff are regularly trained in proper hand-washing protocols and other infection control procedures is the best way to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses in long-term care facilities," Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal said.
Adenovirus type 7, which was the source of the Wanaque outbreak last fall, has been associated with more severe outcomes than other adenovirus types, particularly in people with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.
An adenovirus also was reported last fall at the Voorhees Pediatric Facility in Camden County, where 17 cases were confirmed through January 2019. Officials said the strain found there was Type 3, which typically is less dangerous than the one at Wanaque.
Adenoviruses generally are common viruses that cause a variety of illnesses such as the common cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye.
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