The Stockton Record
May 20, 2006
TRACY – Bacteria, not the so-called “cruise ship virus,” is the culprit upsetting stomachs inside Tracy’s Deuel Vocational Institution, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman said Friday.
Campylobacter, a bacterium spread through contaminated food and water, has knocked 379 inmates at Deuel off their feet, said Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.
County health and state prison officials had suspected the norovirus, which is known to cause cruise ship passengers gut-wrenching pain. That was ruled out at Deuel by Friday evening when test results determined the bacterium cause the widespread illness, Thornton said.
“They’re still trying to find out how inmates were exposed to it,” she said.
The first group of Deuel inmates experienced fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea on Tuesday. The spread has slowed down at Deuel with just 18 new cases diagnosed from Thursday to Friday, said Deuel spokesman Lt. Mike Quaglia.
The epidemic has more than doubled, however, at Ione’s Mule Creek State Prison, Thornton said. About 106 inmates there have come down with flulike symptoms, up from 44 the day before. Results from tests of inmate stool samples there haven’t returned yet.
The Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla was put on the list of prisons reporting mass illness, with 40 women getting sick Friday. Sick inmates at all the afflicted prisons are being treated for dehydration. Symptoms last from two to five days.
Visiting has been suspended at Deuel and Mule Creek for the weekend. Thornton couldn’t say how inmates at the different prisons became ill at about the same time.
“That’s part of what they’ll be looking at,” she said.