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6 children dead from virus outbreak in New Jersey

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HASKELL, N.J. – At least six "medically fragile" children have died from an adenovirus outbreak at a nursing and rehabilitation center in New Jersey, officials said Tuesday.

The outbreak occurred in recent days at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, according to a statement from the New Jersey Department of Health.

The health department confirmed they are investigating a total of 18 cases of adenovirus, including the six pediatric deaths.

"The facility has been instructed to not admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance," the health department statement read.

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. Symptoms usually include sore throats, pneumonia, diarrhea and pink eye.

"Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus [#7] in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems," the New Jersey Health Department statement reads. "The strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living arrangements and can be severe."

An inspection team from the state health department responded to the facility on Sunday and another team from the agency returned to the center on Tuesday.

"The team on Sunday found minor handwashing deficiencies and the Health Department is continuing to work closely with the facility on infection control issues," according to the statement.

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

"This is an ongoing outbreak investigation," the department said in its statement.