May 17, 2009 in City

Swine flu confirmed in New York jail

Amy Westfeldt Associated Press
 

NEW YORK – The swine flu virus continues spreading in New York City – closing more schools and showing up in a jail – while the disease also reached farther into Asia among travelers returning from the United States.

An assistant school principal in New York remained hospitalized in critical condition Saturday and an inmate who entered the city’s jail complex on Rikers Island about a month ago was diagnosed with swine flu on Friday.

The city Department of Correction said that the flu hadn’t spread to other prisoners in the 13,200-inmate system.

The Rikers Island inmate – whose name and reason for being in custody weren’t released – was improving since his hospitalization on Wednesday and wasn’t in serious condition, Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello said.

Morello said the inmate came into contact with about 70 other prisoners in two housing units at the center, and all had been examined and none came down with the flu.

The jail canceled weekend visits for those inmates and advised any other inmates’ family members who were feeling ill not to come, he said. Surgical masks were passed out to those inmates and officers on the two housing units; hand sanitizer was given to everyone in the jails, he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 4,700 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia. Five people have died in the United States, all with underlying ailments.

Internationally, Malaysia, India and Turkey have reported their first cases, all involving people who had traveled from the United States. They are in addition to the 36 other countries where the World Health Organization says more than 8,000 cases have been confirmed.

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