Seven deaths, at least six of which were of children, have been associated with a current outbreak of infections with adenovirus serotype 7 at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in New Jersey. Reportedly, 11 additional children have been infected with the outbreak viral strain. It has been reported that the facility cares for a number of intubated and ventilated children although clinical details of the fatalities have not been made public.

While adenoviruses are a frequent cause of relatively minor infections including pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, and upper respiratory infections, adenovirus serotype 7 is particularly well known for its ability to cause serious, even fatal, pneumonia, most notably in intubated and ventilated patients. Transmission prevention of respiratory viral agents including adenovirus in healthcare facilities is dependent upon excellent compliance with hand hygiene and droplet contact measures including the use of barriers like masks and gloves.

Adenovirus 7 is one of at least sixty-four serotypes of adenovirus and has caused large outbreaks particularly in the colder months, some due to viral strains with new mutations. In 2015, a college outbreak of adenovirus 7 in Wuhan City in China resulted in 739 students developing acute respiratory disease, with 20% requiring hospitalization, 8 of whom were admitted to intensive care. The viral strain was found to have a new mutation in the virus associated RNA II terminal region.

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There is no specific treatment for adenoviral infection.

Additional details regarding this unfortunate outbreak should be forthcoming, but the center had reportedly been cited for health code violations in recent years. A spokesman of the union representing many workers at the center released a statement that said, “Since new for-profit ownership took over at Wanaque in 2014, workers have expressed serious concerns over worsening staffing levels, lack of adequate supplies, and severe cutbacks to job standards.”

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In any case, this outbreak affords an opportunity to remind all of us to do all we can to improve compliance with infection control measures at healthcare facilities in order to protect patients from adenovirus and other viral and bacterial pathogens that can spread from patient to patient.


Corasaniti N. Adenovirus outbreak leaves 6 children dead at N.J. pediatric center. The New York Times. October 23, 2018 Accessed October 24, 2016.