About 123 Washoe jail inmates quarantined after possible flu outbreak

From Reno Gazette-Journal

July 31, 2009

About 123 Washoe jail inmates quarantined after possible flu outbreak

About 123 jail inmates in one housing unit are in quarantine after six inmates exhibited flu-like symptoms in the last two days, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Jail staff are trying to find out if any of the inmates have a swine flu virus, now officially called H1N1.

“Precautionary quarantines are not uncommon in custody situations,” Sheriff Mike Haley said in a statement issued by the sheriff’s office. “We take the health and safety of the inmates and the staff very seriously. It makes sense to be cautious and begin quarantine early in an attempt to control the spread of any illness and minimize the effect on all those involved as well as on our daily operations.”

Housing units have been quarantined before because of flu, the jail said. Quarantines are called for when five or more people housed in one area of the jail show symptoms of a contagious disease.

The inmates can circulate in that housing unit but can’t mix with inmates from other housing units, sheriff’s spokeswoman Brooke Keast said. She said it’s a general population housing unit.

Inmates who have to go to court are still going to court and will wear masks, Keast said.

Two inmates at the Elko County jail tested positive for swine flu in the past week, prompting new policies. New detainees who can’t post bail or be released on their own recognizance will be taken to the Lander County jail in Battle Mountain instead, The Associated Press reported.