Norovirus epidemic shuts down San Quentin prison
By James Lanaras, Bay City News Service
January 5, 2007
SAN QUENTIN (BCN) - San Quentin State Prison officials
said today that as of Thursday, 577 inmates had contracted the
suspected norovirus that has shut down the prison.
Lt. Eric Messick said no visitors will be allowed into the prison
and no new inmates will be admitted through Monday, when the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's health division
will assess the shutdown.
"We're riding it out and we hope to turn the corner real
soon,'' Messick said this morning.
The spread of the stomach flu-like illness, which causes vomiting
and diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and fever, caused the
prison to shut down on Wednesday.
Messick said 80 new inmate cases were reported on Thursday and
more than six staff members also have come down with the bug.
Public health nurses from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
visited the prison Thursday to gather more specimens for testing
at a University of California, Berkeley lab and to talk to inmates,
Messick said. The illness still has not been verified as a norovirus,
"All the inmates are successfully being treated with hydrotherapy
and we are continuing to clean all common areas,'' Messick said.
Officials hope to re-open the prison to visitors and new inmates
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