© Public Health Image LibraryAdenovirus cells seen through an electron microscope
Six children have died and multiple others have been infected after a "severe outbreak" of a life-threatening adenovirus at a New Jersey health facility.

The children were infected with the virus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, which houses a rehabilitation center, a nursing home for elderly people and a pediatrics unit.

Adenoviruses are the cause of everyday infections like the common cold, bronchitis, pink eye and respiratory tract infections, but the highly contagious viruses can be much more dangerous to people with already compromised immune systems.

The New Jersey Department of Health confirmed 18 cases of the virus on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the strain of the virus has been "particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities."

"The combination of a worse strain of adenovirus together with a fragile population has led to a more severe outbreak," the statement added.

The health facility has been told not to admit any new patients until the outbreak has ended. A inspection team sent to the facility on Sunday found some "minor" hand-washing deficiencies, which could have contributed to the outbreak.

While deaths are rare, adenoviruses are a relatively common strain of cold virus. Shortly before Christmas in 2016, an adenovirus infection laid up then 90-year-old British Queen Elizabeth II for over two weeks, and struck her husband, Prince Philip down with a hacking cough.

An outbreak of adenovirus also hospitalized six people in Michigan this August, sending two into intensive care.