During onsite monitoring on Saturday, the Department of Health confirmed that the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has completed separating medically fragile residents without symptoms in the pediatric respiratory unit—where the adenovirus outbreak has spread—from those who have the virus, including grouping residents by laboratory testing status and symptoms experienced by residents.
Previously, the facility was not able to take this action, but as a result of a continuously decreasing census, Wanaque Center now has sufficient space to be able to separate patients. The facility was given a deadline of Nov. 21 to complete this work. On Thursday, the Department issued a call for volunteers from the New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps to assist the facility in finalizing separations quickly; however, since this work has concluded, this call has been cancelled.
The Department is also requiring the facility to hire of a certified Infection Control Practioner (ICP) and the services of a Department-approved physician or physician practice with board certification in infectious disease. The Department has approved resumes submitted by the facility and these services should be in place on Monday. Readmissions to the facility will be reassessed on Monday after these consultants begin working with the Wanaque Center.
“The Department placed these requirements on the facility to ensure a safer environment for these immunocompromised children,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “We have determined that separating ill patients from asymptomatic residents is among the most important measures to prevent further spread of the virus.”
The Department continues to work closely with the facility, federal and local health officials to conduct respiratory illness surveillance.
The strain of adenovirus that has sickened so many children at Wanaque is a type (#7) that is common to communal settings such as nursing homes and military bases. It is known to cause severe illness. These immune-compromised children are not eligible for the vaccine that was developed for this strain of the virus.
Adenovirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days, meaning that symptoms typically appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. The Department will not consider the outbreak over until four weeks after the last illness onset, which, as of this time, is Nov. 12.
Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about adenovirus.