Officials: Flu the cause of inmate death, illness outbreak

PUTNAMVILLE, Ind. (AP) — State officials say testing shows that an illness that killed one inmate and sickened three dozen others at a western Indiana prison is an influenza virus.

State epidemiologist Pam Pontones said during Tuesday’s news conference that inmates at the Putnamville Correctional Facility who got sick were infected with the H1N1 virus first confirmed in Indiana in 2009. That virus is a swine flu strain.

Pontones says “very specific steps” including thoroughly cleaning the prison are now being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further among inmates.

Prison Superintendent Brian Smith says 35 inmates and at least five prison staff members developed symptoms.

He says 13 inmates remain at a Terre Haute hospital and two are in its intensive care unit. Another 15 inmates remain in the prison’s infirmary.

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