- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2018

It has seemingly come out of nowhere — a virus that has killed 11 children in a New Jersey medical facility and a freshman at the University of Maryland.

Health officials are calling for vigilance in the face of adenovirus, a typically mild infection that can become deadly for people with weakened immune systems.

Officials in Maryland said at least nine university students have tested positive for adenovirus-7, a severe strain of the infection. Freshman Olivia Paregol, 18, died of the virus last week.

The same strain has killed 11 “medically fragile” children and infected 34 residents at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in New Jersey since October. One staffer has tested positive for the virus.

Elsewhere in New Jersey, the Voorhees Pediatric Facility has 13 confirmed cases of a milder strain — adenovirus-3 — but has not reported any deaths.

There are more than 100 different strains of adenovirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a vaccine for adenovirus-4 and -7, but it is administered only to military personnel.

Outbreaks have occurred in the general public, typically in communal living areas such as nursing homes, long-term care facilities and, in 2017, a New Jersey drug rehabilitation center. In that instance, there were 79 infections and three deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

A 2005 outbreak at an Illinois pediatric long-term care facility resulted in 63 illnesses, with two deaths and 17 children treated in intensive care.

The virus has an incubation period of about 14 days. It is transmitted through personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, through the air by coughing or sneezing, or through contact with a contaminated surface then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

It can cause cold-like symptoms, a sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea and pink eye. Prevention habits, such as handwashing and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze, are recommended to curb its spread.

The CDC said there is no specific treatment for adenovirus. For people with a mild case, recommended treatment includes: drinking lots of fluids, rest and fever-reducing medication.

Miss Paregol’s parents said they believe rampant mold in the university dorms is responsible for her death.

“There should’ve been greater disclosure and transparency about the existence of the mold,” Ian Paregol told CBS News. “It was just kind of brushed off — ‘Oh, we’re going to clean it. Don’t worry.’ “

The university denied that mold is related to the outbreak, with the first case identified Nov. 1. The CDC does not link mold with adenovirus, the school said.

Mr. Paregol said his daughter had Crohn’s disease and her immune system was weakened by her medication regimen. The university’s health center didn’t diagnose her symptoms as adenovirus, he said.

David McBride, the health center’s director, said last week the university is in contact with the Maryland Department of Health, the Prince George’s County Department of Heath and hospitals in the region.

“The Health Center staff has been on high-alert, and we have reached out to medical facilities in the area to heighten awareness of this illness,” he said. “However, vigilance is extremely important for those with chronic medical problems like asthma, diabetes or illnesses that lower your immune system or if you take medicine that lowers your immune system. It is vitally important not to ignore these symptoms and visit a physician within 48 hours of developing symptoms.”

The university said it has increased cleaning operations through student life centers.

“Crews are redoubling cleaning efforts in high-touch areas to tackle the spread of viruses,” university spokeswoman Katie Lawson said Monday.

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