"This strain of virus tends to cause outbreaks in centers of communal living and has. unfortunately led to deaths", Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the state's health department commissioner, said on Twitter.
The strain in the New Jersey outbreak is No. 7 and is affecting "medically fragile" children with severely compromised immune systems, according to the Health Department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, type 7 is most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease.
The department had reportedly been notified by the 227-bed facility of cases of respiratory illness on October 9.
"I am heartbroken by the news that several children have lost their lives in an adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, and pray for the full recovery of the other children impacted", Murphy said.
Adenoviruses are responsible for about 10 percent of fever-related infections among USA children, and most children will have at least one type of infection by age 10. While they typically cause mild illnesses, people with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are at higher risk of developing a severe illness. The team on Sunday found minor handwashing deficiencies and the Health Department is continuing to work closely with the facility on infection control issues.
Wanaque is a residential facility that cares for "medically fragile" newborns, children and young adults, as well as elderly individuals and those requiring rehabilitation.
A voice mail message left for the director of nursing at the Wanaque Center on Tuesday was not immediately returned. The center has pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation, and has solicited medical guidance on the virus, the AP reported.