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Prisons can be overwhelmed by influenza

April 8, 2012 at 4:04 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, April 8 (UPI) -- Correctional facilities should consider implementing measures to prevent and contain influenza among prisoners and staff, U.S. health officials advised.

After two Maine prisons experienced two outbreaks of influenza among prisoners and staff last year, Correctional Medical Services, which provides health services to both facilities, reported that influenza vaccination coverage among inmates was very low at less than 10 percent and coverage among staff members was unknown but believed to be low.

On March 8, 2011, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention learned a male inmate in one facility, age 55, with history of diabetes, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was admitted to the intensive-care unit on March 5 with a severe acute respiratory illness and tested positive for influenza A (H1N1) 2009.

Later the same day, the state medical examiner notified Maine CDC of a second patient, a previously healthy 29-year-old male inmate in another facility was sick and the next day he died. Tests indicated influenza B. An autopsy revealed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus pneumonia, the report said. Neither patient had been vaccinated for influenza. Shortly afterwards, 40 inmates from the first facility and several from second facility reported sick, overwhelming healthcare facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised correctional facilities should each influenza season: 1) offer influenza vaccination to all; 2) conduct education on respiratory etiquette -- coughing and sneezing into an elbow, and 3) make records of vaccination status accessible.

The findings were published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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