A flu quarantine of a unit in the Fresno County Jail involves 319 inmates who are being isolated from visitors, sheriff's spokesman Chris Curtice said Thursday.
Jail officials ordered the quarantine Wednesday night after a 61-year-old inmate was hospitalized with symptoms of influenza A. The patient, who has been in the jail since September of 2013, was taken Community Regional Medical Center, where his condition deteriorated.
Curtice said a second inmate was diagnosed with influenza later Wednesday night, but that patient does not have influenza A. Three more inmates have flu-like symptoms. These patients have been isolated in a special unit and have been given Tamiflu, a medicine for the treatment and prevention of flu.
While the 319 inmates in the quarantine unit may not see visitors, their attorneys can still meet with them by talking through a window and using a telephone, Curtice said.
Jail officials did not have information about the length of the quarantine. Curtice said inmates in the unit are being checked on "numerous times" a day.
As part of the quarantine, Fresno County Superior Court will not call inmates to court unless it is absolutely necessary, Curtice said.
A spokeswoman for Fresno County Superior Court said the department had no statistics on how the quarantine affected the judicial process.
Jail staff are being given the option of getting flu shots provided they show no symptoms of the illness.
Flu outbreaks in detention facilities receive a high level of attention of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Curtice said the jail follows guidelines for handing outbreaks.
"We've had (flu) outbreaks before," he said. "We dealt with it and got through it. When you have a lot of people in a confined space, it's going to be an issue."
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